Saving seeds today for a better tomorrow!
Few things in life can beat saving your own seeds, resowing them or giving them to friends and family.
Fun Tomato facts:
- The origin of tomatoes is not Italy. The small-fruited wild tomato was selectively bred for larger fruits by the Aztecs in 700 AD.
- Tomatoes aren’t always red. They can be yellow, pink, purple, black and even white!
- The first tomatoes in Europe may originally have been yellow. They were first referred to in writing as “pomo d’oro“, meaning “golden apple”.
- Even after tomatoes have been harvested, they will keep on gaining weight as they keep on ripening.
- The biggest tomato fight in the world happens each year in the small Spanish town of Buñol. The festival, called La Tomatina, involves 40,000 people throwing 150,000 tomatoes at each other.
- Tomato seedlings have been grown in space!
How to save tomato seeds for future growing
If you want to save Tomato seeds, first make sure that the variety you are saving from is open-pollinate and not hybrid as open pollinated varieties will grow true from seed, but hybrids are created by seed companies and are a result of crossing two parent plants to yield seeds for the hybrid variety. So, hybrid varieties will not breed true.
Example of a hybrid tomato: Manica F1 Hybrid Tomato
Over many decades, people created heirloom varieties by carefully selecting and saving seeds from their best plants, season after season. The ‘best’ can be classified as biggest, healthiest, tastiest, most interesting, or colourful tomato. Whatever you want, just choose the best examples of what you’re saving e,g. healthy looking plants will result in healthy tomatoes. To maintain good genetic diversity, it’s best to save seeds from multiple tomatoes, and preferably from more than one plant of the same variety, if possible.
You don’t absolutely have to ferment the seeds, but it makes the seeds easier to separate from the gel, helps sort out bad seeds, reduces some seed-borne illnesses, and eliminates germination inhibitor. If you’re going to trade seeds with other people, it’s considered good etiquette to ferment your seeds.
Halve the tomatoes and scoop the seeds out into a shallow jar of water. Put the jar aside for four of five days, after which a mould will have developed. This helps to remove the gelatinous coating on the tomato seed, which can prevent germination.
After four or five days, pour the seeds into a sieve and wash them thoroughly with water to remove the mould.
Arrange the seeds on a piece of kitchen roll to dry out. Once the seeds have dried out thoroughly, store them in a paper envelope in a dark, cool place until spring. Make sure they’re clearly labelled.
And don't forget that the best part of saving seeds is sharing them with your friends and neighbours!
About the Author
Kelly Dini is the Seeds for Africa customer service guru! Kelly is a qualified horticulturist with 20 years of hands on experience and loves to assist customers with recommendations and giving excellent advice.