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Saving Seeds by Jim Randel, Thayer, Missouri

We have been saving tomato seeds for the past 20 years with great success. The simplest way is to just spread the seeds on a thick pad of newspaper to dry. After 3-4 weeks of drying, the seeds can be stored in tightly closed jars. We leave them attached to the newspaper until we are ready to plant them. How ever, you can scrape them off before storing, or you can dry them on waxed paper, as one of our neighbors does. A longer tomato seed saving method involves squashing the tomato into a container with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water. We use recycled plastic containers. Let this mixture stand where it can be checked each day. Fermenting will take place in several days, and the good seeds will separate from the pulp and sink to the bottom of the container. After a day of fermentation (but not more than five) pour the goop off the top of the jar, strain out the seeds, and rinse them. Air dry for several weeks and store in tightly closed containers. Make sure your storage place is cool and dry.

We store our tomato seeds in large glass jars with a homemade rubber gasket in the lid, inside our freezer. To use, we let the jar come to room temperature, remove the desired number of seeds, reseal and refreeze. Some of our tomato seeds have remained viable for eight years using this method of storage. Either of these methods can be used with seeds from tomatoes that have been processed in a machine such as the Victorio Strainer.

Organic Gardneing, Sept/Oct 1992
Step by Step Tomatoe Seed Saving
by Suzanne Ashworth

Harvest nicely ripe tomatoes from several different vines of the same variety, cut each across the middle and gently squeeze the juice and seeds into a bowl. You will note that each tomato seed is encased in a gelatinous coating. (This prevents the seed from sprouting inside the tomato.) Remove this coating by fermenting it. This mimics the natural rotting of the fruit and has the added bonus of killing seed borne tomato diseases. To foment your ferment, add about half as much water as there are tomato seeds and juice in the bowl and stir this mixture twice a day for about three days. Keep an eye on the mixture - especially if it's in a warm area - fermentation happens more quickly at high temperatures. As the mixture ferments, it will be come covered with white or gray mold. (Do not keep the bowl in the kitchen, anywhere it can be tipped over by animals or children or any where you can smell it - it will get pretty rank.)

When bubbles begin to rise to the top of the mass, or when a thick coat of mold has formed, stop the fermentation by adding enough water to double the mixture, and stir vigorously. The clean, good seeds will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Gently pour off the mold, debris and any seeds that float (they're hollow). Add more water and repeat the process until only clean seeds remain. Capture the seeds to be saved by pouring the liquid through a strainer, wipe the strainer bottom with a towel to remove as much moisture as possible, then dump the seeds out on that glass or ceramic plate to dry. Stir twice a day to ensure even drying and to prevent clumping. Warning: Tomato seeds will begin to germinate if they are not dried quickly, but you should still not dry them in direct sunlight or in the oven. A fan will help speed the drying process safely.

Mother Earth News, Sep/Oct 1987
The Easiest Seed-Saving Crops
By Nancy Bubel

Because tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetable and are available in many wonderful open-pollinated varieties, you'll probably want to save some. I simply scoop out the seeds from several top quality, overripe fruits, removing as little pulp as possible, and spread them on several thicknesses of newspapers to dry. I even store them right on the paper (labeling the sheets with the variety name) and, the following spring, scrape them off as I need them. Tomatoes are less likely than their pepper and eggplant cousins to be cross-pollinated by insects, but such random crossing does happen in about 2 to 5% of close multi variety plantings. Flowers of older tomato varieties also have a long style which is more likely to be touched by bees than the shorter-styled recent cultivars. So if you want to keep seed of a valuable heirloom tomato truly pure, plant it 25 feet away from other varieties. (Separate modern short-style cultivars by 10 feet.)

Some gardeners ferment their tomato pulp before straining out the seeds. There are two reasons for this: 1) the seeds will then separate more easily from the flesh, and 2) the treatment kills the seed-borne bacteria that cause some tomato diseases. To ferment tomato pulp, press the flesh into a jar, add 1/4 Cup of water, and keep the mixture at room temperature for several days. Seventy to 80°F is best; fermentation proceeds too quickly at higher temperatures. Stir the brew each day. By the second or third day, you'll be able to pour off the rotten pulp and "clinker" seeds that float on top, and retain, rinse and dry the good seeds that have sunk to the bottom.

The Arc Institute

Long growing season so often are started indoors and transplanted when the soil is warm. Place 18” or more between plants in rows 3’ apart or more if no trellis is provided. Crop can be wiped out by blight, so some seed should always be retained to plant in another year.

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