Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

As our gardens wind down for the season, it’s time to harvest tomato seeds from our best heirloom tomato plants to save for next year’s garden!  Today, I want to show you how you can save your tomato seeds for next years planting with 2 different methods, both of which are very simple!  Here’s “How to Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds – 2 Simple Ways”.

Before we begin, people often ask if they can save hybrid tomato seeds?

The answer is yes, however, hybrid seeds, also know as “indeterminate” seeds, may or may not give you the same attributes as before.  If you’re ok with that, then you can save hybrid seeds.  For me, however, I want and need results, so I stick with heirlooms.

heirhoom tomatoes on cutting board

For the first method of saving tomato seeds, which is called the “Wet Method”, you’ll need:

  • A small pot filled with clean potting soil
  • Not-so-fresh tomatoes, not going bad but slightly squishy
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Plastic wrap

potting soil in flower pot

Here’s my pot that I filled with clean potting soil.  Whatever you use, make sure it’s not too shallow, the roots will need some room to grow.

How to Can Tomatoes the RIGHT Way

sliced tomato seeds

Simply slice your tomatoes in 1/4-1/2″ or so slices, perfection is not required.

wet method saving tomato seeds

Place the slices on the potting soil like so.  Do not water them or cover them with soil!

Don’t worry, the tomato seeds will know what to do!

How to Prevent Weeds in a Vegetable Garden

wet method saving tomato seeds

Cover your pot with plastic wrap.

How to Start Seeds Indoors

tomato seeds in a pot full of potting soil

Place the pot in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to start your seedlings inside!  I just put my tomato seeds in a second refrigerator and covered them with paper bags.

If you have a really cold spot in your basement or garage, that could work but it needs to be cold enough (below 50 degrees) for the seeds to stay dormant.

When it’s seed starting time, bring your pot full of tomato seeds out and place it in a warm, sunny window or wherever you start your seeds.  Under grow lights would be good too!

You’ll begin to see a LOT of little seedlings coming up!

You can choose the best and strongest ones and pull out the rest.  As the seedlings grow, it may become necessary to transplant them into a larger pot before they’re ready to go outside.

How easy is that??!!

how to save tomato seeds

Now for the “Dry Method” you’ll need:

  • Not-so-fresh tomato
  • Small bowl
  • Strainer
  • Paper towel or napkin

First, quarter your tomato.

quartered tomato on cutting board

Next, with your thumbs, gently scoop out the seeds directly into your bowl.

wet tomato seeds in a container

Put a little water (enough to cover the seeds) in your bowl and let it sit for 3-4 days to ferment.  You’ll know it’s ready when it looks really scummy.

This fermentation process helps to dissolve the gel sac around the tomato seeds, which inhibit germination.

fermenting method of saving tomato seeds

Ready! 4 days for me.

rinsing tomato seeds in strainer

Pour your seeds into a strainer and rinse all the scum off, you may want to use your fingers to move the seeds around so they’ll be clean.

tomato seeds in strainer

Next, put your seeds on a paper towel (placed on a plate of some kind) and let them dry.

tomato seeds on a paper towel

You might be wondering how long it takes for the seeds to dry before planting!  I set mine outside on a really hot day, the drying process didn’t take long at all!  Just make sure they’re good and dry.

tomato seeds on paper towel drying

Once they’re dry, they might be stuck to the paper towel.  Don’t panic, gently scrape them off with your finger nail.  If a little bit of paper towel fuzz is still on the seed, it’s ok.  That’s preferred over damaging the seed.

dried tomato seeds on paper towel

Store your tomato seeds in a seed envelope or other container in a dark, cool place until next year!!

sprouted tomato seedlings

This is what my seeds looked like the following year!  Once they have their second set of leaves, or true leaves, I’ll separate and transplant into large containers.

heirloom tomato plant seedlings

potted heirloom tomato seedlings

See how great they turned out??  FREE!!!


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