It’s that time of year again when gardeners are harvesting their tomatoes and getting ready to store the seeds for next year. Tomato seeds can be stored in a variety of ways, but there are some important things to remember in order to keep them viable.
When to Harvest Tomato Seeds?
When harvesting tomato seeds, timing is everything. It is best to wait until the tomato fruit has fully ripened before harvesting its seeds. The perfect time for harvest will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes grown as some varieties may mature earlier than others. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that not all fruits from one plant may mature at the same time.
Rules for harvesting tomatoes for seeds
- Harvest the fruits in dry weather.
- It is desirable that tomatoes of the same variety growing in the garden to avoid pollination.
- Collect fruits only from varietal crops.
- Pay attention to the quality of the bush.
- If you collect seeds of several varieties, use different containers, and do not forget to sign them.
- Do not try to collect seeds from the fruits of plants that are not adapted to your climate. Even if you got a good harvest this year, there is practically no guarantee of repeating the success.
- Harvest the fruits for seeds separately from the main part of the harvest.
- Do not store overripe tomatoes, the probability that seeds will begin to germinate during the drying stage is too high.
What You’ll Need for Harvesting Tomato Seeds?
In order to start harvesting tomato seeds, you’ll need a few supplies. To begin with, you will need ripe tomatoes of the variety that you wish to save.
- gauze or sieve;
- paper napkins;
- storage bag (paper).
How to Collect Tomato Seeds
1. Choose fully ripened tomatoes. The seeds need to have spent a full season inside the fruit in order to properly mature and be viable for planting.
2. Slice open the tomato, and scoop out the pulp and seeds into a bowl or cup.
3. Separate the seeds from the pulp by mashing them with the back of a spoon and stirring. The pulp should float to the surface, while the heavier seeds will sink to the bottom.
4. Place a small piece of cloth or gauze over a sieve, then pour the mixture onto it. Rinse off any remaining bits of tomato with water.
5. Spread the seeds on paper towels and allow them to dry in a cool, dry place. Once the seeds are completely dry, store them in an envelope or other airtight container.
Saving Tomatoes Seeds
When storing tomato seeds, it is important to keep them in conditions that will protect them from light and moisture. The ideal storage temperature for tomato seeds is between 50°F and 59°F (10°C and 15°C). To extend the life of stored tomato seeds, store them in an airtight container filled with vermiculite or sand, and place the container in a location that is consistently cool.
Tomato seeds can remain viable for up to six years at room temperature if given proper storage conditions. For maximum seed viability, store tomato seeds in opaque or light-tight containers and make sure that the environment is dry – humidity should be kept below 55%, 30-40% is optimal.
Below is the data on how the percentage of germination varies with the time of seed storage.
- 1 year – 89%
- 2 years – 85%
- 3 years – 83%
- 4 years – 83%
- 5 years – 76%
- 6 years – 71%
4 Mistakes Beginners Make Saving Seeds
- Harvesting from hybrid plants. Productivity and taste will change significantly.
- Choose the largest fruit, atypical for this variety. Too low a probability to get the same large fruits.
- Fans of self-selection can choose fruits of atypical shape, which will also reduce the quality of the seed material.
- Violation of humidity during storage. This leads to the formation of mold on the seeds and it no longer makes sense to use them – all sowing qualities are lost.