Saving heirloom tomato seeds

Heirloom vegetables are hardier and have more flavor than hybrid varieties. They’re also more expensive. When you can save seeds from your own garden, you’ll save money and become even more self sufficient. The first thing to remember is that you must be sure you’re saving heirloom seeds. If you save seeds from hybrid plants, you’re saving seeds from two different parent plants, so it’s hard to tell what you’re going to get. It’s a good bet that it won’t look anything like what you want, though!

Pick Your Winners

Hybrid vegetables are also called “open pollinated” means the plant was pollinated by birds, insects, wind or nature instead of by hand. Heirloom plants are created by dedicated gardeners who save the seeds from their best plants year after year. Getting to that fat, strangely colored, delicious tomato can actually take decades! But, if you’ve got the patience, you too can create your own heirloom variety. Save the seeds from healthy plants – if one of your plants looks weak or is struggling, skip it. Remember, you’re looking for plant rock stars. Plants with fruits that knock your socks off. Genetic diversity is important, so save seeds from different plants of the same variety.

Saving the Seeds

Fermenting seeds helps you eliminate bad seeds and seed-borne illnesses. Just scoop out your seeds and put them in a container that is labeled with the variety of the plant. Add 1/4 cup of water and place it in the shade for a few days. Don’t worry if a skim forms on top. After 3 – 5 days, remove the moldy film from the top of the water and add more clean water. The good seeds will sink and the bad seeds will float. Pick out all of the clean seeds, drain on a paper towel then spread them on a paper plate to dry. When they’re thoroughly dry, store them in a dark place at room temperature, or in the freezer. Properly stored seeds can keep for years. If you do ever see mold or mildew on stored seeds, you’ll want to throw them out. Some gardeners recommend sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth in the storage container to act as a desiccant.

When it comes time to plant, either plant only one variety a year or plant different varieties far enough apart that they can’t cross-pollinate.

Of course, after you save all those seeds you get to eat the rest of the tomatoes!