Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seed Day

(L) Pink Lady, (R) Mortgage Lifter, both about the size of a human fist.  Beautiful producers, meaty with very little pulp.

As of today, all my summer and fall canning is done.  As promised, I put up a couple more quarts of relish and put them in the pantry, although I felt a certain "Groundhog Day" reluctance to start that water bath canner yet again.  

In the rest of the garden, the end-of-season eggplants are being made into babganoush, the pumpkins sit on the patio in readiness for whatever I need them for, and I'm bloody well sick of seeing tomatoes ripen on the vine, although not quite enough to rip out the plants just yet.  (You never know when pico de gallo or some other dish requiring fresh tomatoes will beckon, although at this point it's hard to even look at tomatoes without seeing Mason jars in my head.)

But what I did today is part of my typical fall ritual...I chose several beautiful specimens of my tomatoes and saved the seeds.  

Saving tomato seeds is easy, if you know how to do it.  Just fill a small bowl with warm water, halve the tomato and squirt the seeds into the water.  Set it in a warm place (the top of the fridge usually works best for me), cover loosely with cling wrap, and let it sit for a couple of days, stirring once a day.

Once a slight film has formed on the surface and 48 hours have passed, sieve the seeds out, put them on a paper towel and let them dry.  Once they are bone dry, they can be stored in a plastic bag with a small package of silica gel dessicant (usually found in shoeboxes or in other such products) until next spring.

It's hard to imagine, but the hundreds of pounds of tomatoes I've processed this last season all originated from just two tomatoes from last year -- one Pink Lady Brandywine, and one Mortgage Lifter.  If I processed every tomato I grew for seeds only, it's easy to imagine I could populate the entire country with these tomatoes the following year.  There is truly a gross overabundance in their attempt to reproduce.  But that is nature's way, and God's way ... making sure one tomato can feed your neighborhood next year, and one acre could probably feed the world if necessary.

So we seed savers are saving the world, one tomato at a time. And one tomato is pretty much all you'd need to do it.


  1. That's wonderful! It is incredible how plants can reproduce so rapidly. I have massive oaks and maples all around my house. I would say each year about 1000 little new trees emerge. Obviously many die due to lack of sun or space. I often think of what could be done if I repotted even 5% of them and planted elsewhere.
    I've never saved seed from tomatoes, but I might just do it this year. All summer one of my favorite farmers has had the most incredible yellow and red striped plum tomatoes. I might save some of those seeds and grow gem myself. Thank you for the instructions! And congratulations on a successful season! I know it was looking bleak earlier this year.

    1. Thank you! Getting a beautiful tomato at the farmer's market was what got me started with seed saving....one farmer supplied me with my original Pink Lady Brandywine tomato and I realized I would be incredibly disappointed if something happened and I never got another one (plus she charged $3 a tomato!) so I decided to take matters into my own hands to guarantee my supply and make it cost effective. This year's crop are the 5th great-grandchildren of the first one I bought from her.