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Savings seeds

I seldom save seeds from our vegetables. Exceptions are:

Of course, the seeds I do collect are from open-pollinated varieties.


I save seeds for only one variety of tomato. It is not commercially available, as far as I know. The main reason is that this variety, TPS Golden tomato, mentioned elsewhere, has shown unusual resistance to late season blight. It's a plus that this golden is a beautiful tomato (by shape and coloring) and it has most appealing flavors.

I am selecting first for blight resistance, so I collect seeds from tomatoes on plants that have not been affected by blight and whose fruit has not been tainted. Other characteristics seem common to all the fruit, except I avoid collecting from the smallest tomatoes.

Except in the hoop house I have isolated TPS Golden from other varieties to avoid possible cross-pollination. In the future I will scrupulously isolate the Goldens.

Standard method

Tomato seeds and gel fermenting in waterI use a method generally recommended by master gardeners, fermenting the seeds to separate them from the gel. This:

  • helps sort out bad seeds (good seeds sink, bad ones float to the top)
  • reduces some seed-borne illnesses
  • eliminates a germination inhibitor

Here's the procedure:

  • Cut the tomato into several pieces
  • Scoop out the seeds and gel into a small container
  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and set the container aside, out of the sun, for 3 to 5 days.
  • A moldy film forms on top. That’s okay.

To separate the seeds:

  • First carefully remove the film.
  • Add more water and stir (good seeds have sunk)
  • Carefully pour off the water and the floating bits of pulp (repeat until all the pulp is gone and you have clean seeds)
  • Drain them as well as possible (using a paper towel helps)
  • Spread them in a single layer on a screen or a paper plate to dry. (The medium needs to wicked away the moisture. Seeds tend to stick to a paper towel but don’t use a plastic or ceramic plate.)

Tomato seeds drying on a dehydrator screen and paper towelDried seeds in a paper envelopeI leave the seeds to air dry for a couple of weeks. Then I put them into a paper envelope and store in a cool, dry, well ventilated place.

Reasons not to

I don't generally save seeds because:

  • Most must stay planted long after I am preparing my garden for the next season
  • Many are easily affected by cross-pollination with other varieties
  • Some dry out only very slowly in the cloudy, humid conditions of fall and winter
  • In most cases it is more trouble than it is worth
  • Often plants gone to seeds are unsightly
  • A variety of professionally grown, open pollinated seeds are available and relatively inexpensive

Some of the above are reasons why I don't take locally saved seeds at a seed exchange. (I still remember the “turnip seeds” that were a really a mixture a radish and who knows what!)

garden/about/plants/tomatoes/seeds.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/17 11:27 by davidbac