Tomato — Lycopersicon lycopersicon

plant profile

The humble tomato originated in Latin and South America. Brought to Europe by Columbus, it was for many years considered a death-inducing oddity. Today, many of us would consider summer to be incomplete without the flavor of a freshly picked tomato.

Though most tomatoes are red and slightly acidic to the taste, this favorite fruit has a wide variety of colors, sizes, flavors, and uses. It is also fairly easy to save tomato seed.

steps for saving tomato seed

  1. Most tomato flowers are self-pollinating. Though cross-pollination is possible, it has, in my experience, been non-existent. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, just that it most likely won’t. Therefore, you can grow as many different types of tomatoes as you have room or desire for, often with little or no spacing issues.
  2. Pick ripe tomatoes from plants whose fruits exhibit those characteristics you most enjoy.
  3. Cut the fruit in half and squeeze the seeds into a cup or container.
  4. Once you’ve completed step #3, fill your container with a little water. Tomato seeds form inside gelatinous sacks whose purpose is to keep the seeds from germinating inside the fruit. Because of this, you must put the seeds through a very simple fermentation process.
  5. Stir your seeds 2-3 times a day. This will speed the fermentation process.
  6. Once the liquid has formed a layer of mold, or when bubbles can be seen rising to the surface, the process is complete. Note: this mixture smells noxious. If you do this inside your house, make sure to place the mixture where it can’t spill!
  7. Double or triple the liquid in the mixture with clean water, skim the mold from the surface, then pour the mixture through a strainer.
  8. Rinse the seeds and place them on a plate or metal surface. Do not use cloth or paper, as the seeds will dry and stick, becoming virtually impossible to pry loose.
  9. Stir the seeds once or twice a day to prevent sticking.
  10. Once dry, place the seed in an air tight container. I find old prescription bottles work perfectly.
  11. Properly stored tomato seed will remain viable for up to 10 years (though I usually grow mine out after 3 or 4). Seed keeps longer if stored in the freezer.