Have you ever eaten a really astonishing tomato and wished that they all tasted like that? Probably so, and it most likely came from your own garden. Home grown tomatoes are usually much tastier than store bought tomatoes due to the freshness factor. Here are some instructions to preserve your own seeds for next year.
Step One: Picking a great tomato
If you currently have several tomato plants, you want to select a tomato from your healthiest, largest, most beautiful plant, one that has been consistently providing you with excellent tomatoes throughout the season. If you are not currently growing your own tomatoes but would like to start, you can purchase a tomato for harvesting from a grocery store or farmer’s market. You will probably get a better tomato for harvesting if you choose a farmer’s market over a grocery store. To select the specific tomato first pick one that is a good size, according to your own preferences. The shape is very important, so do not select a misshapen tomato, but a well rounded one. Take note of the skin. Color should be vibrant, and the skin should not be marked.
Step Two: Getting to the seeds
You will need the following:
- Sharp knife
- Cup or jar (preferably clear)
- Plastic Wrap
Clean both your hands and the tomato. Using a sharp knife, bisect the tomato. Place the tomato halves seed side up. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds along with the gelatin like substance surrounding them. The seeds and gelatin go into your cup. Fill the cup with about two inches of water, no more than halfway. Cover the top of your cup with plastic wrap. Poke small holes into the top of the plastic wrap to allow for air passage. You don’t need very many holes, two to four holes will be fine, depending on how large your cup is. This process is necessary to destroy any disease or bacteria that may be in the seeds so that it does not pass to your plants next planting season. Your cup should be stored in a safe location at room temperature. At night, pour or scoop off whatever seeds and pulp have floated to the top of the water. Good seeds will stay on the bottom of the cup in clear water, and bad seeds will float to the top with the pulp. This process will take between two and three days.
Step Three: Drying and storing your seeds
You will need:
- Paper plate
- Paper bag
At the end of the third day, pour or scoop off any remaining pulp on top of the water, so that you are left with clear water and seeds only. Use a screen, strainer, or coffee filter to carefully strain your seeds from the remaining water. Place your seeds on a paper plate. The seeds should be well spread out, don’t allow seeds to stack. If possible, place your seeds outside for drying. If not possible, a cool and dry area in your house will work. Seeds should be kept on the paper plate, spread out, during this time. It will take awhile for seeds to dry completely, as much as seven days. Rainy weather can cause seeds to take even longer to dry. To check if your seeds are dry, see if they stick to one another or to the paper plate. Dry seeds will not stick. It is very important that you get the seeds completely dry, or they may mold. When they are dry, place the seeds in a paper bag for storage. Paper is much safer than plastic as it allows the seeds to breathe.
Step Four: Becoming even better at self harvesting
It will take a few times for you to become adept at harvesting seeds. With practice, you will become much better. Keep trying to self harvest, and you will get more of a yield each time you do. If you get to the point where all of your gardening seeds come from self harvesting, you will have created a completely self sufficient garden.