Need Tomato Advice

biblion(z6 CT)February 25, 2007

I need some advice on what I did wrong saving my tomato seeds from last season.

In early October I collected seeds and gel from the three varieties we grew--San Marzano, Boxcar Willy, and Powers Heirloom (none of these hybrids as far as I know)

I added water to cover to each batch of seed and kept them sufficiently watered and let them sit for a week or so to ferment. Each batch of seed developed a nice scum on top of the water.

I rinsed them and then air dried them, and stored them in paper envelopes in a plastic bag over Winter.

My lettuce seed, which I allowed to mature outside, is sprouting well, but, alas, not so my dear tomatoes.

Since this is my first season saving seed, I'm wondering what I did wrong.

Any thoughts?

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

You may have added too much water, most of the references I have seen say to add no more water than 50% of the volume of seeds + juice. For most tomatoes, the juice you can squeeze out will suffice; I have never had to add water. If the tomato is very dry (I have a few that are) or if the seed quantity is very small, strain the juice from a juicier tomato (to remove the seeds) & add it to the mixture to increase its volume.

Also, a week seems like far too much time. The gel will be destroyed by fermentation in 2-3 days, or even as little as 24 hours; the warmer the area, the more rapid the fermentation. If the seeds are not removed promptly after the gel breaks down, they may begin to sprout - I've forgotten a few batches and had this happen (it only took 4 days). Such seed will die quickly once dried, and should be discarded. Examine the seeds under a magnifying glass; you may see a small dead sprout on the pointed end of some of the seeds.

It is possible that there are still a few live seeds. You could place a large number on a wet paper towel, and watch closely for germination - then immediately transfer any that sprout to moist seed starter. But if seed is still available, it might be best (and far easier) to start fresh.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 12:00AM
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biblion(z6 CT)

Thanks, zeedman. I'll be following your advice this season and will try the rest of my seed to see if any survived.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 6:47PM
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