Saving Tomato Seeds
This tomato was the most luscious and well-formed one from my summer garden. It is a ‘Black Krim’ grown from seed saved four years ago. Saving seed allows you to select the highest quality tomatoes with the characteristics you want and grow them the next year. Each successive season the plants are better adapted to the local climate and growing conditions.
This was the tomato to save the seed for next year’s crop. I carefully teased the seed from the tomato then savored each wedge. The dark red-purple skin was perfect, the flesh firm but juicy and the flavor rich and sweet. ‘Black Krim’ is an heirloom from Russia and scores high in taste tests. The brown/green/purple shoulders darken with more heat and sunlight.
Since it had been several years since I had saved tomato seed I did a search to review methods. I was pleased to find an excellent piece by my online garden mentor, Barbara Pleasant at GrowVeg.com. Check her concise descriptions of three ways to save tomato seed.
These little salad tomatoes came from Suzi’s Farm in San Diego. I was so taken by their flavor, appearance and performance I saved the seed four years ago. I suspect the tomato might be Stupice. In a difficult tomato-growing season this year they were reliable so again, I selected the best for seed saving.
I decided to use fermentation as described by Barbara Pleasant. This process cleans the seed of the gelantinous sac that surrounds each seed and prevents germination. I let my seed mixture sit on the kitchen counter for the recommended 24 hours. Older methods prescribed four to five days with the formation of a moldy scum. I’m happy to have the shorter time frame and no mold.
The seeds are ready to wash. Some sources recommend non-chlorinated water so I used boiled and cooled tap water.
The seed is cleaned and ready to dry.
The seeds have been drying for a week and I’ll leave them a little longer in our climate where the humidity runs about 70% most of the time. Barbara says they are ready to store when “they feel dry and papery and crack when folded in half with tweezers.” Be sure to write the name of the seeds on the plate if you are drying more than one variety. My seeds have stayed viable for as long as five years when stored properly.
You may also want to read her instructions for simple drying if you only need to keep the seeds for one to two years. I plan to try that method too. The Seed Savers Exchange also has instructions for saving tomato seeds. At the end of the post you’ll also find an older post with a link to a webinar on saving tomato seed.
It’s that time of the growing season for many gardeners. Pick your best tomatoes and save seed.