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Saturdays in the Garden: Completing Tomato Seed Saving

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Don’t you wonder who the first person was to discover that letting something sit and ferment can be a good thing?  Even for organic gardening, where it’s common to play in the dirt and appreciate microorganisms, this seed saving method seems pretty gross. We told you last week about our beginning efforts to save tomato seeds by allowing them to ferment.  This week, it was time to complete our tomato seed saving.

two mason jars with mold atop fermenting tomato seeds

After a few days (3-5 days is typical) our lightly covered glass jars of tomato seeds with added water developed mold on top.  The container from the yellow tomatoes didn’t seem to create as much mold. The red tomatoes had bright white contrasting mold on top.

Per the time-honored directions found in several places, including the Agriculture Extension Service in California, I poured off the moldy film and began carefully rinsing the tomato seeds in fresh tap water.  This helped remove the gelatinous layer  normally surrounding the seeds.  Any floating goo or floating seeds were thrown out since the good seeds sank to the bottom.

Tomato Seeds in white bowl

Once I rinsed them clean, I laid the seeds out on paper towels to dry, turning them and eventually placing the dried seeds into labeled envelopes for seed starting early next spring.

This process of allowing the tomato seeds to ferment is supposed to not only clean up the seeds by getting the gel off, but it also helps reduce the chance of seed-borne illnesses and betters the chances at germination.  We will find out next spring.

Thanks for joining us all spring and summer for Saturdays in the Garden.

Next week: some really ugly garden pictures from a summer garden disaster!  Come on back and have a good laugh at my expense!

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