Saving Seeds is a Gardening Tradition

It was so much fun to grow a 2-pound tomato, that I decided to save some seeds for next year.

Saving Tomato Seeds blogThis past weekend I was determined to make a dent in the big tomato bounty that lined the kitchen counter.

I wrapped the green ones in newspaper to ripen on their own, I made a big batch of salsa to have with chips during the Broncos game and I slow-roasted some in the oven.

Then I had to decide what to do with the 4 Giant Beligums that tipped the scale with a total weight over 6 pounds. These were no ordinary tomatoes.

John walked in while I was cutting the 2-pounder and couldn’t believe I could grow a tomato almost as big as my head. (Just to clarify, I do have a small head.)

I heard from several gardeners wanting to know more about my Giant Belgium tomato crop. It seems people were most curious about their taste.

So we decided to do a little taste test by taking bites out of a couple of good-sized chunks. We immediately said, “Yum.”

The fruit was dense and meaty with a deep beefsteak tomato taste. It was sweet enough to help me understand how it would make delicious tomato wine. John said it had a nice citrusy after taste.

These tomatoes deserved extra-special treatment, so we set up the tomato press and made 2 quarts of beautiful pink tomato sauce. I also decided to save some seeds for next season.

Saving seeds is a gardening tradition and, thanks to gardeners from the past, we still have seeds for many heirloom varieties that might have otherwise disappeared from the landscape.

Seed Savers Exchange defines heirlooms as “any garden plant that has a history of being passed down within a family.” Seed Savers Exchange is the non-profit organization that has promoted seed saving and sharing since 1975.

The group believes 1 million samples of rare seed have been distributed since it began.

If you’d like to start your own tradition of saving heirloom tomato seeds to pass around to your family and friends, here’s how:

  1. Select seeds from a tomato with your favorite flavor and from the healthiest plants. Slice it in half across the middle (its “equator”).
  2. Scoop out the seeds and their gelatinous “goo” with a spoon; place in a clean container.
  3. Add several tablespoons of water to cover seeds.
  4. Cover the container with a piece of plastic wrap; poke a small hole in the plastic with a knife or toothpick to allow for air transpiration.
  5. Place the container in a warm location to ferment. This takes about two or three days.
  6. Stir the seed and water mixture once a day and replace the plastic-wrap. (The top of the liquid will look “scummy” when the fermentation process has separated the goo from the seeds.
  7. Remove and discard the scummy surface material.
  8. Pour the tomato seeds through a fine kitchen sieve; rinse the seeds with water and stir, making sure all surfaces are thoroughly rinsed; remove as much water as possible from the seeds.
  9. Line a saucer with a piece of waxed paper or use a large drip coffee filter.
  10. Place the seeds on the saucer or filter and spread them into a single layer.
  11. Let the seeds dry; stir during drying to make sure seeds are evenly dry.
  12. Tomato seeds can take up to a week or more to dry thoroughly. Dried seeds move quickly and easily across a plate, they do not stick to each other. Store the seeds in paper packets or envelopes; label with name of tomato variety, brief description and date.

Home-saved tomato seeds like these will make a nice surprise to tuck into a basket of gardening gifts for someone special.


 

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Comments

That tomato sounds yummy, and your photos are fantastic! I’m still amazed that you could get a tomato that size. Have you heard from others about their gardening successes this year?

Quite a few gardens were hit by hail in July and while some gardeners gave up others started over by planting late-season crops. Perhaps they’ll be some late bloomers this year.

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