There’s nothing like those first ripe tomatoes of the season. We tend to our tomatoes with such care and enjoying the fruits of our labor is the best part. Saving and planting tomato seeds from fresh tomatoes is a way to reuse tomato seeds and a great tip for frugal gardening.
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I recently paid $6.00 for one beautiful heirloom tomato. It was delicious and worth every penny, but I wanted to know how to save heirloom tomato seeds to plant the next year.
After reading several articles, I decided to use tomato seed fermenting as the method for saving my tomato seeds.
How To Save Tomato Seeds From Fresh Tomatoes
I’ve tried several methods but have had the best luck with fermenting tomato seeds. It’s very easy so don’t let the process scare you. It takes about 5 minutes to get the process started and the fermentation process takes about one week.
Why Do You Ferment Tomato Seeds?
When a tomato drops from a plant and is left in the garden, it begins a natural fermentation process that sterilizes the seed and also removes the protective coating from the seed. You can wait until the following year to see if you get some volunteer tomato plants, but bugs or critters might have already consumed your seeds.
Rather than wait that long, you can plant tomato seeds from fresh tomatoes by stimulating the natural process and fermenting seeds on your counter.
How To Ferment Tomato Seeds
- Slice your tomato in half and squeeze out as many seeds as you can, along with some of the tomato pulp.
- Place the seeds and some tomato pulp in a small jar. I like the smallest mason jars for this.
- Add enough water to where you have about 2 inches in the jar.
- Cover with a paper towel or napkin and secure it with a rubber band or the lid from the mason jar. If you’re using a mason jar, use just the metal ring and a napkin, not the flat metal part that creates the seal. If you’re fermenting more than one type of seed, use separate jars and mark the napkin with the appropriate type so you don’t lose track of which is which.
- Leave the seeds in the jar on the counter for about a week.
- Remove the cover and use a fork to lift out large pieces of mold and pulp.
- Rinse your seeds well using a sieve and a gentle rubbing motion to remove all debris from the seeds and let the seeds drain for a while. I like to take dry napkins and dab the bottom of the sieve to get as much moisture out as possible.
- Spread the seeds out on a ceramic plate and dab any other excess moisture that you can.
- Allow the seeds to dry completely for about 5 – 7 days and they are ready to use or store for next year. Each time you go by the plate, gently rub them so they don’t stick. You generally only have to do this for the first day or so and then they quit sticking. If you dry them on a napkin, good luck getting them off. I did that once and won’t make that mistake again.
How To Store Tomato Seeds
I store my seeds in small manilla envelopes. They breathe a bit and are a better choice than using plastic bags. Tomato seeds will last up to six years if stored properly and then you should ferment new ones. Store them in a cool, dark place. Do not store them in the refrigerator or in a place where they will get too hot. Storing tomato seeds in a pantry should work fine.
How to Plant Tomato Seeds
Plant your seeds in good quality organic soil and you should see germination in approximately 7 – 10 days if they are grown in proper conditions. I’ve gotten into a new type of gardening recently so be sure to read about how to grow tomatoes fast and see how I grew 12 of the best heirloom tomatoes plants I’ve ever grown!
Tips For Growing Tomatoes
Read this post if you’d like to learn more about growing tomatoes faster.
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