Saving seeds – tomato harvesting

Showing off a bit here – those tiny specks are the tomato seeds I’ve saved for next year’s harvest, ranged in the middle of some of this year’s harvest: a courge (the French for overgrown courgette), a squash, a calabrese and a tiny weeny cucumber.

The two sets of tomato seeds are vine tomatoes from our own plant and a black tomato that Sue gave to us. In the wild, tomato fruit falls from the parent plant and decomposes on the ground – during this process the gelatinous fluid that surrounds the individual seeds is broken down. Apparently to harvest tomato seeds yourself you need to duplicate this, not only to remove the gel but to kill off any seed borne tomato diseases that are usually destroyed by the decomposition process.

So you have to squeeze the tomato seeds into a jar or glass filled with cold water and put it in good light to ferment for up to ten days, during which time the water will smell horrible and will go clouded, then scoop the gunk off the top, taking any rotten seeds with it, and pour the rest into a fine sieve, stirring gently under running cold water until only clean seeds remain. Then you spread out the seeds to dry, making sure they don’t touch each other – this can take up to 12 days, less if you put them in sun. The dried seeds can then be put into a labelled envelope and kept in a cool dry place for the following year. This is the first time I’ve done it, so my fingers are crossed!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, September 22, 2008

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