How to Store Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Guidelines for Selecting the Right Tomatoes
Before you can start saving heirloom tomato seeds, you need to pick the right tomatoes first. Selection is important because the best seeds will naturally produce the best crops from your home garden. Here’s what to look for when selecting your heirloom tomatoes:
1. The Tomatoes Should be Open-Pollinated Varieties.
Open-pollinated types are ideal for saving heirloom tomato seeds because they’re all natural and free from harmful pesticides.
2. The Tomatoes Should be Fully Ripe.
Ripe varieties are great for saving heirloom tomato seeds because they contain more seeds.
3. The Tomatoes Should be the Best Ones from Your Garden.
The freshest, tastiest and best-looking crops from your garden must always be chosen for saving heirloom tomato seeds. This way, you’ll be more likely to grow the same varieties from the seeds you save.
10 Easy Steps to Storing Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Step 1: Prepare the Tomatoes
The first step, of course, is to prepare open-pollinated, ripe and great-tasting tomatoes as mentioned above. They are perfect for saving heirloom tomato seeds.
Step 2: Slice the Tomatoes Across the Equator
Be sure to slice in this method so that the seeds will easily show.
Step 3: Scrape the Tomato Seeds into a Glass Jar
Next, you’ll want to take out the seeds as well as the gel and put them into a glass jar. Don’t worry about separating them yet. Also, remember to label the jars so you won’t confuse the different varieties you have.
Step 4: Immerse the Seeds and Gel in Water
The fourth step to saving heirloom tomato seeds is to submerge them in water, about one inch deep. Doing this encourages mold growth that will separate the seeds from the gel.
Step 5: Wait for Mold Growth
The next step to saving heirloom tomato seeds is to watch for white mold to grow. This usually happens within three to five days. The mold will appear on the surface of the tomato solution and it helps get rid of the gel layer on the heirloom seeds.
Step 6: Drain the Water and the Floating Seeds
Once the mold appears, go ahead and drain the water and the floating seeds. Just be careful not to include the sunken seeds because they’re the good ones.
Step 7: Clean the Seeds
Now, it’s time to rinse the remaining seeds. Put them in a mesh strainer and rinse them under running water to take off the gel from the seeds. They don’t have to be perfectly clean though, so no need to press hard on them.
Step 8: Dry the Seeds
After cleaning the heirloom seeds, you can go ahead and dry them. Simply spread the seeds on a paper plate and wait for them to dry. Once they’re dry enough, they will easily come off the plate and then you can finally store them.
Step 9: Store the Seeds in Glass Jars
Now that you’re done saving heirloom tomato seeds, you can proceed to storing them for long-term use. The most recommended storage method is putting the seeds in zip-lock bags and then keeping them inside airtight glass jars. This effectively fights off moisture from affecting the seeds. Sunlight and heat are also very bad for saving heirloom tomato seeds, so the best area to keep them is in the fridge.
Step 10: Organize Your Heirloom Seed Collection
The final step to saving heirloom tomato seeds is to organize your seeds by labeling them properly. Write down the seed variety, storage date and other pertinent information. A good practice is to store together the seeds that were harvested during the same season since they’ll most likely have the same shelf life.
So those are the ten easy steps to saving heirloom tomato seeds properly. Just follow the directions and you’ll have a valuable tomato seed collection in no time!