Tomato seed harvesting is a good way to get seed for tomato plants uniquely adapted to a particular growing area. Harvesting the tomato seeds is simple to do.
Top Tomato Varieties for Tomato Seed Harvesting
As Jane MacKensie, former horticulturist extension specialist, noted in her article, Saving Vegetable Seeds: Tomatoes, Peppers, Peas and Beans (University of Minnesota Extension: 2010), it is important when selecting tomatoes for tomato seed harvesting to choose open-pollinated varieties instead of hybrids.
Open-pollinated varieties will produce seeds that will grow into plants similar to the parent plants and will bear similar fruit. Harvested hybrid seeds will produce a completely new combination of the good and bad traits of the parent plants making it impossible to predict what qualities the plants and fruits will have.
Since plants grown from harvested seed will be quite similar to the parent plants, choose tomatoes with the best appearance, size and flavor from the healthiest and productive plants.
Tomato Seed Harvesting and Storage Step-by-Step
Items Needed for Tomato Seed Harvesting
Best quality tomatoes available from the garden
Pairing knife to cut and scrape seeds from the tomatoes
Two clean glass jars and one lid that will form a tight seal
New small envelope
One facial tissue
One tablespoon powdered milk
According to Samuel Contreras, Department of Plants Science, Pontifical Catholic University of Chili, in his article on vegetable propagation, “Tomato and Pepper” (Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences: 2010), the first consideration for harvest seeds is the timing of the harvest because it affects yield and seed quality. Contreras recommends using tomatoes that are red but not overripe.
After harvesting, cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds along with the gelatinous pulp surrounding them.
As outlined by Samuel Contreras, to separate the seeds from the gelatinous, put the seed mixture in a glass jar with water and leave it uncovered for up to three days at room temperature. Stir the mixture at least twice per day. By natural fermentation, the seeds should sink to the bottom by the third day. Pour off the liquid, rinse the seeds in clean water and then place them on paper towels to dry.
To store the seeds after they have dried thoroughly, Jane MacKensie recommends putting them in paper envelope. Place the envelope inside a glass jar. As a desiccant, wrap one tablespoon of powdered milk inside a facial tissue and put it in the jar. The powdered milk will absorb any moisture and keep the seeds dry. Tightly seal the jar and store it the refrigerator.
“Saving Vegetables Seeds: Tomatoes, Peppers, Peas and Beans.” University of Minnesota Extension. Web. 27 June 2010.
“Tomato and Pepper.” Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Services. Web. 27 June 2010.