To The Rescue: How to Save Tomato Seeds

Greetings to all our budding gardeners out there. If you have been toying with the idea of saving tomato seeds this is a fantastic article that will guide you through the whole process. 

We cover all the basics. From what you need all the way to how you can grow your saved tomato seeds. So, without further ado, let us dive straight in. 

To The Rescue: How to Save Tomato Seeds

What Tools & Materials Do You Need?

Before we look at how to save tomato seeds let us take a look at what you will need for this process. Below you can see the tools and materials that you will need:

  • Canning Jar – You will use a canning jar or a glass bowl to put your tomato seeds and pulp in so that they can ferment. 
  • Colander – You will need a colander to strain the pulp from your seeds.
  • Spoon – A spoon will be needed to scoop out the seeds of the tomato. 
  • Paper Towel – You can use a paper plate to put on top of your canning jar or bowl to reduce the smell and discourage fruit flies from gathering or getting in the jar. 
  • Paper Plate – You can use a paper plate to dry your tomato seeds after you drain them. 
  • Envelope – An envelope can be used to store your tomato seeds after you have completed all the steps. 
  • Ripe Tomatoes – You will obviously need ripe tomatoes to harvest the seeds from.

How To Collect Your Tomato Seeds

Okay, now that you have all of your equipment let us start looking at how you can go about collecting or harvesting your seeds. 

Below you will see a step-by-step guide on how you can do this: 

Step 1 – Before you begin, when you pick your tomatoes it is recommended that you leave the ones you want to get seeds from on the plant until they are overripe.

This is because leaving them on the plant for longer will ensure that the fruit has fully developed the seeds and this will ensure that your seeds will germinate much better and form healthier plants. 

Step 2 – Once you have your nice overripe tomato fruit you will need to slice them in half. It will be best if you cut the tomato so that the bloom end is on one side and the stem end on the other. If your tomato is cut like this you will be able to see the seed cavities much better and this will make the next step easier. 

Step 3 – The third and final step in harvesting your tomato seeds is to scoop out the insides. In some types of tomato, you can still use the flesh of the tomato. But this is not always the case. So, just scoop the seeds out of the tomato and put them in a clean glass bowl or jar. 

How To Ferment & Separate Your Tomato Seeds

Now that you have all of your seeds in a jar or container you can move on to the fermentation process. This is the next crucial step in saving your tomato seeds. 

So, let us take a look at how you can do this below: 

Step 1 – Your tomato seeds and pulp should be in a glass jar or bowl at this point. You will need to check if there is enough liquid in the container to allow the seeds to float to the top. If there is not you can add a cup of water to the container. Doing this will help separate the seeds from the pulp of the tomato. 

Step 2 – Next you will need to put your glass bowl or jar in a warm spot that will not be in your way for the next two to three days.

This is so that the seeds and the pulp can start to ferment. Be advised that as this happens there will be a foul stench emanating from the bowl, so it really needs to be out of your way so that your poor nose is not assaulted by fermenting tomato seeds and pulp.

A sterilized canning jar is ideal for this process as the extra space at the top can’t really help control some tomato stench. You can also place a paper towel on top of the jar to reduce the smell and ward off fruit flies that are attracted to your fermenting tomato seeds. 

Step 3 – You should check on your tomato seed fermentation progress daily. You will know that the fermentation process is complete when you see a layer of mold starting to form on the seeds and pulp, or you notice bubbles start to rise from the seed, pulp, and water mixture.

It is important that you do not leave your seeds in this mixture for too long as they may start to germinate when you do not want them to. 

Step 4 – Now you can separate the seeds from the pulp. Start by removing the mold layer, doing this will make rinsing the seeds much easier to do. Add some water to the bottle or bowl and stir/shake it. The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the water and pulp mixture.

If you drain the excess liquid using a kitchen strainer or a colander you should be left with all your seeds. 

Step 5 – Set your glass dish or jar aside and scoop out the viable seed. Carefully place them on a paper plate or parchment paper so that they can dry out before you put them in an envelope until you want to grow them in the coming spring or summer months. 

How To Sow Tomato Seeds

Now that we have our seeds, you might want to know how to sow tomato seeds in a way that is sure to result in little tomato plants. 

So, let us take a look at how you can easily grow your own tomato seeds step-by-step: 

Step 1 – Before you actually plant your tomatoes you need to work on the ground you are planting them in. Start by filling your plant pot with seed compost, make sure to leave about an inch of free space just below the rim of the pot.

Step 2 – Now you can scatter your seeds over the compost, make sure that they are evenly scattered before you cover them with vermiculite. Water the seeds before you cover the pot with some cling film or a plastic bag. This will help keep the moisture inside the compost which will make it easier for the seedlings to sprout. 

Step 3 – As soon as you see seedlings starting to push through the soil you should remove the plastic covering. Make sure that your seedlings get enough light and water until they are just under 4 inches tall. 

Step 4 – Now you can transplant your potted tomato seedlings into pots that are about 2.9 inches until you are ready to plant them into your garden in the spring or summer months.  

Why Should You Save Your Own Tomato Seeds?

The first thing that people wonder when they read about growing tomatoes or other crops is why they should keep their own seeds instead of buying them from a local farmers market etc. Well, we are here today to tell you what we have been telling my friends for years.

Why Should You Save Your Own Tomato Seeds?

The reason you should save your tomato seeds is that it gives you full control over what your plants produce. Remember back in the day when your parents bought packs of seeds every season, but then you would never get anything different from what your dad grew the year before!

You can even save seeds from certain varieties that don’t grow well in your area. For example, I live in Ontario where most of our gardeners plant heirloom varieties such as ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Vates Purple’.

While these types of vegetables tend to grow great here in Ontario, they are very susceptible to frost and low temperatures. So, unless you are planting your seeds during those months (April-June), saving your seeds will ensure that you get more of those awesome traits each year. 

But remember, it’s not all bad news. There are many benefits to saving your seeds right now. They taste better than what you buy at the grocery store.

Plus, if you have a high-quality growing medium in your home garden, you’ll know exactly what nutrients your plants were exposed to when they germinated. Also, you won’t need to purchase expensive seeds every year.

So, summing up the main reasons for saving tomato seeds: 

  • You can propagate various varieties of heirloom tomatoes all by yourself. So make sure to pick a tomato variety you want to save for the next year, so you can save money and grow another amazing plant just as good as the last one. 
  • You can save money and not purchase seeds every year. 
  • It is a super easy process and something that any level of gardener should be able to easily do. 
  • If you store your seeds properly they can last about five years. So saving your tomato seeds can be a huge time and money saver. 

Frequently Asked Questions

You probably have a few questions about saving tomato seeds that we have not answered yet. In this section, we are going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about saving tomato seeds. So, let us begin:

Do Tomato Seeds Need To Be Dried Before Planting? 

No, you do not need to dry your tomato seeds before planting them in the ground. This is especially true if you are using an organic growing medium like compost or manure. However, if you use a regular potting mix, you may want to give your seeds a little extra drying time.

You can either place them on a paper towel until completely dry or put them into a dehydrator set at 105 degrees F for 24 hours. Either way works fine. 

What Is The Best Way To Store My Tomatoes Seed? 

The best way to store your tomato seeds is in a cool, dark location. If you have a basement or garage, this is perfect. If you don’t have access to a cold room, you can also keep them in a refrigerator with a humidity dome. Make sure to label your containers, so you know which type of seed you are storing. 

Can I Freeze Tomato Seeds? 

Yes, you can freeze your tomato seeds. Just follow the same steps above but instead of placing them in a dehydrator, place them in a freezer bag. Once frozen, transfer them to a labeled container and then place them back in the freezer. The freezing process will kill off any bacteria present in the seeds.

Is It Okay To Use Regular Potting Mix Instead Of Compost? 

Yes! You can use regular potting soil for your tomato seeds. Just make sure to water your seeds thoroughly after planting. 

Are Tomato Seeds Easy To Grow? 

Yes, they are pretty easy to grow. You can start them indoors or out depending on how much space you have available. Both methods work really well.

We recommend starting your seeds indoors first because you can control the environment and temperature. Then transplant them outside once they reach maturity. 

How Long Does It Take For Tomato Seeds To Germinate? 

Tomato seeds typically take anywhere between 10 days to 2 weeks to germinate. Some people report taking longer while others say it takes less than a week.

There are many factors that affect the speed of germination including the size of the seed, the age of the seed, the amount of light the seed receives, and the temperature. 

Final Thoughts

Saving tomato plant seeds isn’t hard at all, but it does require a bit of research on what type of starter mix works best for your specific situation and how you are going to store them once they are ready. Once you’ve gotten started though there are tons of resources available online for further assistance and tips.

The key is finding what your needs are and learning how to take care of your seeds so that next year they’re sprouting like crazy and producing an abundance of fruit.

Now go out and get busy with your plans to increase food self-sufficiency! Happy gardening!

Morgan Daniels

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