Tomato seeds

calm1(6)August 25, 2013

Everything I've read says tomato seeds need to be fermented.
A friend of mine just told me that his aunt has for the past 40 years simply put the fresh seeds on a paper towel, let them dry a few days, roll up the towel & put it in an envelope. Then plant them in the spring. Does this make sense?

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According to what I've heard, fermenting mashed tomatoes causes the seeds' seed coats to decompose just enough to make germination easier. However, I don't think it is necessary to do so. It makes little biological sense for a seed to have to rot within the fruit in order for it to germinate. However, I hope I'm not misleading you as there are some species that do need special treatment, such as cold exposure, as a prerequisite for germination. Tomato plants, being reminiscent of weeds, do not strike me as being finicky with their needs.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:56PM
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I saved seeds from last year and grew cherry tomatoes and the small yellow pear variety. They grew very well.
I dried some first on paper towel and they were hard to pull off some of the towel came too. I did some more on cloth linen towels and these worked much better. Don't know if I was just lucky or? Maybe a more experienced seed saver can shed some light.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 2:45AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I am trying the fermenting method right now, on an heirloom variety bought at a local farm stand. The lady at the register wasn't even sure of the variety, but I liked it. Next time I'm in there I'll ask again.

This will be my first attempt at saving tomato seeds. I cut the tomato in half and scooped out the seedy part of the tomato in to a glass and added 2 inches of water, and mixed it up. Waiting for the coating to ferment, then the seeds will be rinsed and dried on a paper plate.

I get tomato seedlings reseeding in the garden each year, so apparently fermenting isn't a necessity.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 8:09PM
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i have question. how do you store tomato seeds? keep them in the fridge ???

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 8:02AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I keep all my seeds in a produce drawer in the refrigerator. Seed banks store seeds at freezer temperatures (about 0F / -18C). A cool, dry, dark place should be okay, but I get better longevity in the fridge.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 1:09AM
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I let them ferment for 2-3 days. Be careful not to go too long or the seeds start to degrade. Pour the seeds through a strainer and rub the seeds a bit, which helps remove any remaining gel. Then plunk the seeds onto paper towel to dry and lastly, scrape them onto a piece of parchment paper. Write the variety on the parchment, especially if you have several going at the same time. I let them dry thoroughly and then I fold it up into an envelope and label with a Sharpie with variety and year. I used to leave them on the paper towels to dry and stored them that way, but then you have to pry them off the towel - the seeds don't stick to parchment.

I store my seeds in the basement in an airtight container. Tomato seeds remain viable for a very long time if stored properly. I have never stored seeds in the fridge.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 12:38PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

Fermenting does remove the gel coat which has some germination inhibitors. It also aids in destroying some disease organisms. I've grown several varieties of tomatoes from seed dried on paper towels, etc. and not had trouble with germination or disease, though.

There are other ways to remove the gel coat and sanitize the seeds. Wintersown has one method detailed on their site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sani-Scrub Method for saving tomato seeds

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 7:57AM
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