Most of us are quite familiar with buying seeds or sharing seeds. Seed saving is something not many of us do that often.

What exactly is seed saving?

Seed saving is a process of collecting seeds from the fruit of the plant for sowing in the coming season.

Why save seeds?

Back then, there were no seed companies, so farmers save their own seeds during every harvest and use it for their next crop. Imagine, if farmers didn’t save seed of the varieties of veggies they had, we would be having only one kind of tomato. Yes the regular market variety. You get the idea.

Ok I hear you!. Farmers have acres of land and their demand is very high and also, they save a lot of money by saving their own seeds. Hence It makes sense for them to save! But why a nano/micro farmer ( us folks 😉 has to save seeds. If I shell out few bucks, I get a pack of seeds which I can use for centuries, why get my hands dirty and save seeds?.

Here is why you should save your own seeds.

1. You protect the variety from becoming rare or even extinct.

This may not be applicable to most of us.But there are families who save the seeds that were given to them by their ancestors. Most of the heirloom varieties that we fancy today are the result of careful seed saving.

2. Preserving the diversity of the species.

Plants develop special traits over the years based on the location they grow and they adapt. Hence the variety is much more suited for that location and aptly called ‘native’ variety. If we don’t preserve diversity, then we are literally destroying the change that nature brought into those plants by evolution. Think about it.

3. You get fresh seeds to sow.

Trust me, once you start saving seeds, you will not go buy it from the shop. I had saved tomato, lettuce and few flowering plants like Aster, Zinnia. I have had amazing germination rates. Few weeks back, I saved the seeds of Yellow pear tomatoes. When I had bought the seeds, the germination rates were very poor. Not even 30 % sometimes. With the seeds that I collected, the results are excellent. Sometimes I even get 100%.

Same with lettuce, the difference is phenomenal. The purchased seeds of lettuce “Cimmaron” took 10 days germinate. The ones I collected took a record time of “2” days. Yes just 2 days. I was excited.

4. It saves money:

Sometimes, when you buy seeds from big seed companies, you get 10-20 seeds. In that some may not germinate. If you dont save seeds from the yield you get.Then you have go and buy the seeds from them again. But, If you had saved the seeds, not only you use it as long as you want but you can share /sell them as well. How about that?

With these thoughts I will now give a step by step procedure of collecting seeds from tomatoes.

Requisites:

  • Tomato (Of your choice)
  • A Cup
  • Polythene sheet/bag.
  • Marker

Step 1:

Take the tomato of your choice. It could be the one that you pluck from the plant or the one that you found tasty. It should be ripe. Cut the ripe tomato in its equator and squeeze the pulp into a container. If you observe the seeds that fallout, they have a gelatinous coating that inhibits germination. Once all the pulp is collected in the container, add some water and mix it well.

Step 2:

Cover the container with the polythene sheet then fastened with a rubber band so that it closes the container properly. Then you make a small slit in the polythene near the top centre. This helps in aeration. Mark the container with the name of the variety of the tomato whose seeds you are saving.

Step 3:

Keep the container in a warm spot away from the direct sunlight. Also ensure that there are no flies. If there are flies, you cover the container completely with a thin cloth.

Leave it for 2 days.

Step 4:
Check after 2 days. You will see something like this. Stir it and keep it in its location as it was.

MyGarden 656

Next day, it will look like this. NOTE: It is not very pleasant to look or to smell. What you see is a result of fermentation. The fermentation process will break down the coating on top the tomato seeds. Do not leave the seeds in this condition too long. Sometimes they start germinating or they become dark brown in color.

MyGarden 659

Step 5:

Now you take the container that has fermented seed pulp and using a spoon remove the white layer on top and throw it. It contains the tomato tissue, bad seeds and pulp. Then Add water, mix it well and drain the water. Do this many times, till the water remains clear and at the bottom you will good seeds settle in. After several cycles of this, you will have good healthy seeds that remain in the bottom.

It will look something like this.

MyGarden 692

The seeds are spread out in a plate ( Coffee filter paper might work). I used normal tissue paper to absorb the moisture, but the seeds stick to the paper and its a bit of pain to remove the seeds from the paper. The seeds are then air dried. Which means, keep it in a place with good ventilation and away from direct sunlight. Stir it few times so that they dont stick to each other. It might take a day or two. Be patient. Once it is dried, store them in a cool dry place. You are all set to use them in your next batch.

Save seeds and Enjoy.

In my next post, I will explain about open pollinated varieties and Hybrids.

Till then

gg

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17 Responses

  1. Hi, I am a regular visitor of ur blog because you provide wonderful inpformation. Just before two days I was thinking about seeds while cutting a capsicum. (Will these seeds germinate if I plant them directly??) And here is your blog with the answer 🙂 ..

    Regards,
    Binita

    • Hello Binita,

      Thanks for the comment. For capsicum, it has to be ripe for the seeds to germinate. The seeds of the ones that we buy in the stores that is the green ones wont germinate. It has to be ripened in the plant itself. Though the steps mentioned in my post are commonly followed for tomatoes, sometimes, tossing away the rotten tomatoes ends up in whole lot of cute seedlings.. Nature is awesome!. what say?

      gg

  2. Hi gg,

    That’s very useful info. In fact am also thinking about saving few seeds of tomato,capsicum,beans,okra from my harvests of this season. Hope I will have to buy less and less seeds in future. Few question though – How long do you think these seeds can be preserved before germination. Under what condition will you preserve them (refrigerated, normal room temperature etc ??)

  3. oh!! thx u so much for suc an immediade response…..i m really grateful for such kind help….yesterday i just wrote n today i got the response…its v kind of u…….wish u a v good luck for ur vegetables…….regards erum

  4. thanks a lot for this post. I don’t have any idea about gardening but would like to start a vegetable/herb garden. Found your blog while searching for “kitchen garden bangalore”.
    I would like to know if I can follow the method you have mentioned for getting seeds from store bought tomatoes or we have to first buy proper seeds itself?
    Looking forward to the second part of you kitchen garden series…

    • Hi Amrita,

      You are welcome. There is nothing wrong with using the method I mentioned in my post for store bought tomatoes. However, there could be some problems. The tomatoes we get may or may not be vine ripened( letting them ripe on the plant).Sometimes they are plucked when half ripe and ripened later to aide transportation. Also, if they are from Hybrid plants you may get some tomato with not so desirable traits. Again these are all a possibility. But then you never know, you might get best tomato plant as well. So give it a try.

      gg

  5. Hi GG,

    I never took tomato growing seriously, may be because of my failures in the past. But this year I got encouraged looking at the pest free healthy and yielding tomato plants (variety : Tumbler – F1).

    While googling and looking at your posts, I learned about long truss varieties.
    (http://www.paramount-seeds.com/Paramountonline/tomato_varieties.htm)

    This site has the photographs of some great looking tomato plants.

    My questions to you are:
    1. The ‘long truss’ plants in general / which you grow are determinate or indeterminate?
    2. Are they good for containers?
    3. Do they produce more fruits than other varieties? As looking at them it seems that they bear lot of fruits in a single truss.
    4. Which long truss varietie(s) is available in India?

    Regards,
    -FG

    • Hi Fg,

      Good to know you are interested in tomatoes. I have seen tumbler its a nice variety. Also keep in mind, the seed that you see in paramount-seeds are of very high price. They sell mostly greenhouse grade seeds.

      Now to your questions:
      1. Long truss are indeterminate.(atleast the ones i have seen so far). There are some semi-determinate varieties as well.
      2. If you use 20L container to grow, you can grow easily the truss tomatoes. They are heavy feeders.
      3. Most of the indeterminate plants yield 6-8 fruits in a truss. The green zebra tomato I had had 7 in a truss.
      4. Long truss varieties are available with seed companies. You can check namdhariseeds.com, indamseeds.com. See under products/tomatotable for namdharseeds.

      Usually the greenhouse varieties you see are of beefsteak kind.
      Cheers
      gg

  6. Dear GG,

    How do you do seed saving for lettuce – the loose leaf variety and the purple leaf variety (is that Romaine ??) ?

    Regards

    enthumaali

  7. Hello GG,

    I am a new joinee in this blog and hence am going thorough all the older posts.

    Regarding the seeds, i hear that the seeds will be alive only for 3 to 6 months maximum, once they are collected. After this, the germination power is reduced. Is this right? How do we extend this / how do we kindle germination from seeds that were collected long time back.

    regards
    Jay

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