Saving Tomato Seeds

These same simple steps will increase your success 
when saving most Seeds for next year's crop. 
Always try to duplicate nature when you're preparing Seeds for furure sowing. A Tomato that has rotted and virtually vanished may be the best source of Seeds, assuming that Nature's Creatures leave some for you. 

The following process assures that you will have ample Seeds for sowing. Understand that one Tomato may yield dozens of Seeds, so the average Gardener may get their next year's supply from a single Tomato. But your Garden Club members and friends may demand that you process more.

The Tomatoes in the foreground are ready for Step 2. 
The Seeds in the Sifter are ready for Step 4.

Step 1
Always select the very best Fruit from your very best Plants for Seed collection! Allow them to ripen on the vine and get over-ripe (past the point where you would eat them). This insures that the Seeds are fully ripened. You may want to suspend them above the ground to help protect them. 

Step 2
Cut them in half and expose the cut side to the sun for 3 to 5 days. Laying them on a piece of fencing will help keep the cut side up. During this time the Seeds will take on additional nourishment and maturity.

Step 3
Remove the Seeds into a coarse Strainer as shown above. A spoon works well for this removal. Then under very warm running water, use your fingers or thumb to rub the Seeds against the sides of the Strainer to remove the sticky Tomato flesh which will be washed away by the running water.

Step 4
Spread the damp Seeds on a Paper Towel. Allow them to dry in a warm room. Optionally, you can dry them in a Food Dehydrator set to 105 F. Label and store them in air-tight containers with a packet of Silica Gel, or teaspoon of Powdered Milk stapled in a Paper Towel "envelope", to absorb moisture.

The dried Seeds may tend to stick to the Paper Towel, depending on how well you washed them. The back side of a knife may help to remove them. 

These same general steps are appropriate for saving most Seed varieties.

You can test the Germination Factor of you Seeds in January: 
Take 10 random Seeds and sow them indoors at a Southern window that gets warmth and Sunshine. When the Seeds sprout and grow to 1 inch, count the Seedlings. If you have 8 Seedlings, your Germination Factor is 80%. That's about average; look proud ! 

In early Spring, sow the Seeds in Pots or flats so that you have 4" to 10" Plants ready for your Garden after your last expected frost.

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