I had a great tomato harvest! The plants were strong, the tomatoes (tigerella’s and tiny tim’s this year) were delicious and overall it was a very productive tomato year. So I thought, “I want some more of these tomato seeds!” I did some reading, figured out how to do it and am passing off the knowledge to you.
Seed saving strategies change for different plants. Fruits and vegetables can be very different, and this leads to different kinds of seeds and different seed-saving methods.
I’ll start with tomatoes. The tomato itself houses many many seeds that can make new plants that are just as strong or stronger than their parent plants. Therefore, you should seed save your tomato seeds from the strongest plants in your garden. Pick a few large healthy fruits, take them inside and give them a wash.
To save the seeds from tomatoes, you will need to cut them in half and scoop out the seeds from the inside. Take the goopy seeds, make sure you include the goop from the tomato insides, and place it in a jar. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with plastic wrap. Ensure there are a few holes in the covering and place that jar in a sunny and warm place.
Tomato seeds are covered in germination inhibitors and a bunch of other things that prevent them from growing inside the tomato. Fermenting this goop along with the seeds will remove these inhibitors and allow your seeds to germinate. Allow them to ferment for 3 days, stirring the solution every day. When your fermentation is complete, you are ready to dry your seeds.
Using a fine sieve, drain the tomato ferment and collect the seeds. Wash them well with water and remove all of the leftover tomato goop. Place these seeds onto a coffee filter or other absorbent surface and allow to dry for 7 to 10 days. The seeds must be completely dry before bagging and labelling because otherwise they will mold.
Tomatoes generally self-pollinate, so you will likely have the same variety of tomato as you planted. Just bag them, label them and you will be ready to plant new tomatoes!
Most brassica’s will bolt and produce flowers and seed pods. The only thing you need to do for these is to allow the seed pods to brown before removing from the plant. You can remove the entire stem, and then hang upside down and allow to dry fully. Once your seed pods are dry and crack easily, roll the entire stem between your hands, overtop of a bucket or container, to collect the seeds. Nice and easy for these brassica greens.
Cucumbers are a bit trickier! The reason for this is that cucumber’s often cross-pollinate, so the seeds that are produced are not true copies of the plant you take the seed’s from. Because of this, you never know what you will get! But if you want to try, go for it!
Remember not to seed save from any cucumber’s labelled hybrid. These seeds are the result of a cross-pollination that make delicious cucumbers, but the seeds produced from these hybrids are often sterile and will not grow.
To seed save a cucumber, let the cucumber grow on the vine to full maturity (much longer than you would if you wanted to eat them!). After that, remove the seeds and follow the same method as the tomatoes! Allow them to ferment for 3 days and then rinse and dry thouroughly before packaging and putting away.
Have fun! Gardening is often about learning and trying new things so if you have ever wanted to save the seeds from the tomato plant that you absolutely loved, do it! This blog only covered three kinds of seed saving, but there is many many more, so keep your eye’s peeled for more seed saving blogs in the future!
~Landon Getz, External Coordinator