If you grow an open pollinated tomato, it is quite easy to save your own seed. Tomatoes don’t easily cross pollinate so you’re very likely to get what you started with. And you’re harvesting the fruit anyway, so no extra growing procedures.
Tomato seeds are an important seed crop on our farm. Every year, we grow about 5 varieties in bulk quantities for other seed companies. Though, it is quite easy to save seeds from a few tomatoes in a yogourt container, we’ve had to slightly scale up to meet our yield needs …
First, we harvest the fruit:
We then let the tomatoes sit for a few days to a week. As the fruit keeps maturing so does the seed.
Next, we squish that fruit up.
I used to use a well-loved 2×4 for the job. However this year, our apprentice Heather had a great idea:
Caitlyn demonstrates the new technique.
(Remember to wash those boots before and after each seed lot!)
Nice and squished.
I run the tomatoes through a screen to remove the skins, stems and some of the pulp …
to get a seedy tomato sauce.
Transfer to a well labelled garbage pail.
Let ferment for 2-5 days depending on ambient temperature. I stir each pail a couple of times a day to make sure all the seeds ferment equally. When everything is going right, a thick inch of mould will grow on top of the sauce.
This fermentation is very important:
- it dissolves the gel sack around the tomato seed that inhibits germination,
- it controls many bacterial and fungal diseases.
After fermenting, I add water and then decant. The heavy seeds sink to the bottom as I pour off the lighter gunk.
I add more water and repeat. Each time, the water is a bit clearer.
Suddenly, I am left with a pile of clean seeds on the bottom of the can.
I collect the seeds in a colander and then spread them on screens or towels to dry. Or …
I hang them in nylon stockings!
And then direct a fan on the stockings and squish them regularly so they dry out quickly.
It has been a few weeks since my last post but I have sorted out my internet problems so I should be posting regularly again. Coming up soon: first peppers and eggplants and then more on caterpillar tunnels!