20 August 2008

Tomato Seed Saving Strategy Using Fermentation Method

Are you saving any seeds from this year's garden for next year? I collected a supply of the hard to find nicotiana seeds and will collect others as they mature.

Mostly, I deadhead flowers and herbs and leave the seed heads on the ground where I want them to come up next year.

Victory Seed's website has a set of instructions for saving tomato seeds. The instruction headline says, "We find that the fermentation method results in clean seeds with high germination rates."

Each of the 12-steps are illustrated with photos.

Victory Seed refers readers to a link to AVRDC, The World Vegetable Center. Their illustration shows someone stomping on a plastic bag full of tomato seeds. They recommend no more than two-days of fermentation on their illustrated page of instructions.

I asked Donna, the writer at Veggie My Love for her tomato seed saving secrets and she generously provided her method. Click on the link for the complete directions that I'm just summarizing below.

Seed Fermenting Method of Preserving Tomato Seeds for Next Year's Garden
First pick the best of your favorite tomatoes

Squeeze the seeds and their surrounding juices into a plastic or Styrofoam cup

Then add enough water to ensure that after sitting around for a few days the liquid will not have all evaporated...usually I add maybe a teaspoon or two.

Now either you need to cover this with one of those 'Favor Bags' like you see at weddings at craft stores...they are made out of Organza material, and they do a good job of keeping the fruit flies at bay.

Then simply let the mixture sit until a nice fungal mat forms on the top...this will look kind of mottled and goopy.
Now it is time for seed cleaning. Take your fermented mess and gently remove the fungal mat by tipping the cup and helping the mat slide off with the aid of a toothpick, pick any seeds that are stuck in the goop out and add back to the liquid in the cup.

Fill the cup with fresh water and swirl a bit, being careful not to slosh out the seeds. pour off the excess liquid, again being mindful of your seeds.

Any bad seed should float to the top of the water and be poured away. Repeat this process three or more times until you are left with just clean seeds.

Pour seeds out into one layer onto a clean paper plate or paper towel and leave in a dry spot for as long as it takes for them to be dry.

Loosening them from the plate or paper and giving them a stir is a good idea 1 or 2 days into their drying.

Make sure to label with the correct name and date and store out of the light in a cool dry place.

Donna at Veggie My Love, is a perfect example of what makes the Internet live up to its potential.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Saving seeds from your best plants is the way to go!
I have saved some cherry tomatoes this year, they came out beautifully and so thick on the vine. I did not waste my time with the oxhearts as they were so small *smaller than a golf ball*.
You've got the right idea for saving the seed, as the chemicals in the pulpy bit around the seed actually stop the seed from germinating until it is broken down.