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Seed Saving Techniques

You just harvested your first tomato… and it’s bliss! The color is sparkling gorgeousness. The texture is spot on for its use. It has the most amazing taste, and you want to save the seeds to regrow next year.

How do you save tomato seeds?


To save tomato seeds, simply cut a tomato in half and squeeze seeds into a container. Add a little water so they won’t dry out. Seal with a lid. Label with the variety name and date. Let seeds sit on the counter for one to three days depending on location environment/temperature. After a day or so, add water and swish. Change water until clean, or dump into a fine mesh strainer and run the water until clean. Spread seeds onto a non-stick surface, label with the variety name. Allow your seeds to dry thoroughly for several days. Pack up, label, and date your saved seeds. Some people have success with simply cutting open a tomato, removing and drying seeds on a paper towel. However, fermenting your seeds lead to a cleaner finished product and according to Permaculture Research Institute, removes germination inhibitors and may treat some seed-borne diseases.

Can you save any tomato seeds?

In theory, you can save any tomato seed, but for best results, you want seeds from a ripe, disease-free tomato. Some have saved seeds from their favorite grocery store tomatoes and found success. But realize, if your tomato is a hybrid or f1, you may save seeds but the tomato may not come back the same next year. Continue to save seeds for multiple years to stabilize, or save and grow heirloom seeds.

Do you need to worry about isolating tomatoes when saving seeds?

Tomatoes are primarily self-fertile. You can isolate if you want, or you can use a mesh bag to bag the blooms prior to the flowers opening and until they started to set. Most bees aren’t interested in tomato flowers with the exception of sweat bees and bumblebees. With the exception of anthocyanin-type tomatoes, which have finer pollen and can travel by wind more easily, tomatoes can be planted next to each other just not touching. Do accidental crosses happen? Yes, just not as frequently as other fruits and vegetables.

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