How to Save Tomato Seeds

Until recently, I never had any experience (or desire) to plant tomatoes in my garden. Getting used to the tomatoes found in my local store was as good as it got for me. But, as I started focusing on creating my garden and planting all sorts of plants, herbs, vegetables, and fruits, it was time to give the tomatoes a go!

Collecting some wisdom on the subject took a lot of patience and time. So, this is why I decided to share my experience and everything I learned, starting from why to save tomato seeds in the first place to how to save tomato seeds. Keep on reading to find all the information you need!

Why tomatoes?

Tomatoes are probably one of the best fresh produce on the planet. They are juicy, slightly acidic, and filled with antioxidants and other important nutrients. Although they’re considered a plant that grows a little slowly (it takes about eight weeks for them to become viable seedlings), they come bearing incredible fruits! After the seedling becomes viable, it takes at least another two months for the plant to produce ripe fruit. Naturally, this varies based on the type of tomato you want to plant. For example, beefsteak tomatoes grow slower than cherry or pear tomatoes.

If you are a beginner, here are a few reasons why you should plant some tomatoes:

  • You are developing a new exciting skill;
  • You are certain that the seeds will thrive in your area;
  • You will always have a bundle of seeds to keep;
  • You can start learning about planting some other plants, too, and enjoy all the benefits that come when you grow your own food. (find a list of more homesteading skills to learn here)

If you are a first-time gardener or would like to read a little more about growing tomatoes before you jump into seed saving, here are a few helpful articles to take a look at.

Best Tips for Growing Tomatoes 

Top Reasons For Tomato Leaf Curling

4 Ways to Save & Ripen Green Tomatoes

Overall, even if the process takes a little bit more time, the joy of harvesting your own tomatoes is a feeling that cannot be described with words. Here is how to save tomato seeds from being able to plant again.

Saving tomato seeds guide

Once I got the hang of it, it was very easy to get into the process of how to start saving seeds, storing them, planting them, etc. Reading this, you may even have all the tools for it already, so why don’t you consider making your little tomato family today?

1.    Types of seeds – there are several types of seeds you should look into if you want your tomato gardening experience to be easy and fruitful.

  • Open-pollinated seeds – these seeds are pollinated by natural means, meaning that there were birds, bees, and wind involved in the process. This also means they are self-pollinated as well. Because the tomato plants have completely formed flowers, this means they have male and female parts. They can pollinate themselves, making the process easier for people who are planting them for the first time. There are many reasons why you should plant heirlooms, and seed saving is just one.
  • GMO and hybrid seeds – these are types of seeds created in a lab that don’t bear fruits yearly. For that reason, you need to repurchase new ones every season.

2.    When to harvest them – remember that you need to harvest a tomato specifically for seed saving. Here is how to save tomato seeds – the tomato should be pretty ripe before you pick it out for seed preservation. In other words, keeping the tomato longer than you should be is the perfect way to ensure you get the best product for your seeds. While doing this, you allow the seeds to mature a little longer inside the tomato.

3.    Why you should ferment tomato seeds – some of the best tomato seed tips come from this particular step in the process. Fermenting your tomato seeds is crucial for ending up with viable seeds to plant. If you skip this step, you might face seeds overgrown with mold.

The slimy stuff around the tomato seeds is known as a locular gel. This gel prevents the seeds from sprouting from inside the tomato. Speeding up the process of seed saving begins with the fermentation process. This is when you will ensure the seeds are preserved and no bad bacteria grow on them.

4.    How to save tomato seeds – first, pick the best and the brightest tomatoes you can find. This is an important step because the seeds you will pick from these tomatoes will replicate the ones you hold in your hands. You will need some instruments on how to store tomato seeds, please see below:

  • You will need the tomatoes
  • A knife and a cutting board
  • Some water and a jar
  • Wire mesh sieve and paper plate
  • Envelope or a seed storage container

After you slice up the tomatoes and put the seeds in a jar, cover them and put them in a bright place. Let them ferment overnight. Depending on the temperature in your home, this process can take up to three days.

Once this is complete, fill the jar with water almost to the top, close it, and shake it. This way, the seed will detach from the pulp. Remove all the seeds that float to the surface (they are not viable) and put the jar back for another 24 hours. Shake the jar again, and drain the seeds through a wire mesh sieve. Put them on a paper plate to completely dry out.

5.    How to store tomato seeds – after you finish the latest step, store them in an envelope, and label the type and date until you are ready to start your seeds next gardening season. Keep them in a cool and dry area, away from any sunlight. This is how you can make them last for two years and remain viable for planting.

More tips on tomatoes

How to save tomato seeds is easy, but focusing on which type can be tricky. This is why I recommend choosing heirloom tomato varieties to make the job easier. Also, while you are scooping up the seeds from the best tomatoes you have, you don’t need to throw the rest of the tomatoes away – add them to a stew or create a lovely tomato paste or sauce.

I would love to hear from you – please feel free to share your opinion or ask anything in the comment section below.

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