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Question about saving seeds

anney
14 years ago

I've been faithfully saving the seeds of the best OP tomatoes I've grown. But I have a question about the process.

When I extract the seeds, I put them in a small clear plastic jar with a bit of water and slitted Saran Wrap on top. Then I put them in the shade outside, where it's been getting up in the 90s every day.

After two or three days, I can tell by the smell that they've "fermented", but they sometimes don't form a definitive layer of mold or gunk on top. Instead sometimes the liquid gets a little cloudy and the gel disappears.

Do I need to do things differently? Wait longer, or will they be okay?

Comments (36)

  • digdirt2
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Likely they are ok. I don't add any water - just the fluid from the fruit. I think the water only retards the fermentation but that just my op. ;) I wouldn't wait any longer than 3 days. After that they begin to sprout.

    Dave

  • korney19
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have been doing mine on my porch and we've had some upper 80's low-90's during that time. One thing I wouldn't do is add water, unless it's a paste tomato with very liitle juice. There are a couple of different opinions on the correct way to do it... some say let them sit & get a covering of mold and others shake it up daily. Personally, I use small plastic cups about 4-6oz with snap-on lids and poke a few slits with a knife--the slits are so fine that it keeps bugs/flies/fruitflies out, yet if the gases inside expand they will escape thru the slits. For larger tomatoes or say 3 or 4 of a medium or large variety, I find that McDonald's $1 sundae containers w/lids work great.

    A word of caution---the high temps can speed up the process, as well as how ripe the tomato was (even different results with different varieties and sweetness levels.) After rinsing, squeeze some seeds--I dump right from the strainer to my hand and give them a squeeze, then spread out the best I can on paper towels, roll up, fold up & mark with a Sharpie. I mentioned the squeeze part because it is very easy to overferment seeds in high temps---they actually sprout little white tails. These will no longer be good if it happens. It happened to a batch that fermented for barely 3 days. I think adding water may even make things worse.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

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  • carolyn137
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I don't judge the completion of fermentation by smell b/c you can have some nasties in there that have nada to do with fermentation that smell horrible. ( smile)

    I always do my fermentations in clear containers so I can see the gas bubbles rising along the inside wall of the container which is a better measure of what's going on.

    You can also see when seeds start dropping to the bottom.

    And I always leave the containers uncovered b'c it's the fungi and bacteria in the environment that you want to form that white layer atop the fermentation.

    Carolyn

  • anney
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    korney

    I've added a small amount of water because I've never gotten much liquid out of the tomatoes, just globs of gel and seeds. I thought that adding water would even out the fermentation as well as slow the fermentation process. You must mean water may hasten the sprouting process that comes on the heels of fermentation. I also stir the mixture every day.

    I've carefully examined the seeds I've fermented and they don't have that little root extruded, and I agree that if that happens, you'd better toss the seeds.

    I do dry them well, a couple of days on a paper plate, gently separating them as time goes by.

  • anney
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, Carolyn, I think I'll have to do it again, following your advice. Then next spring I'll test them all for viability!

    What exactly does fermentation DO for the seeds?

  • gonefishin
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Anney, I do mine a lot like you described, except that I have some clear glass jars that are perfect. I put saran wrap over the top and punch holes in it with a pencil for air transfer, then put them outside. Some form that layer of scum, some do not, but it is easy to see how many seed have dropped out of the gel and pulp and fell to the bottom of the glass. I do sometimes swirl, shake or stir the contents to shake some of the good seed out of the mess floating on top.

    After several days (none of mine has started to sprout) with temps in the mid to upper 90s I take them in and skim the layer off the top, spray water into what is left, stir it up good and dump the contents through a tea strainer. I then rinse them vigorously. Then on to dumping and spreading as best I can on coffee filters to be put in a safe place to dry. I usually stir them around about once a day for the next two or three days to separate any that were clumped together while wet. I write the name and date on the coffee filter, yet they can be used several times because they dispense the moisture well.

    It seems to me that if you devote the whole tomato to saving seed, cut it horizontally at the equator and squeeze both halves out to remove the seed, you may have enough juice and pulp without adding any water. If you are like me and want to eat an exceptionally good tomato and save the seeds too, you may dip the seeds, or most of them, out and wind up with not enough contents and that is when I may add a little water. I have not been able to tell much difference, the ones without chlorinated water may start to ferment a little quicker.

    Not trying to answer for Carolyn, but I think that the fermenting is to remove the gel which has a temporary component to prevent sprouting so that the seeds like those falling on the ground can have the best chance of getting covered with dirt or otherwise situated before sprouting. It may also remove any other outside pathogens and leave you with cleaner seed which are separated instead of stuck together making them easier to handle and plant separately. They may also be more disease free from any diseases that are not inside the seeds themselves.
    That is just what I think that I have learned, but at any rate, I am very happy with my seed saving efforts and my germination rates have been very good.
    Bill P.

  • dangould
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    If the seeds need a little extra moisture why not add some tomato juice. I would never add water.

  • carolyn137
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What exactly does fermentation DO for the seeds?

    ****

    Bill has answered that pretty well and I'll add just a bit.

    It does remove the gel capsule which does have a germination inhibitor but since we all sow seeds under conditions that are optimal for germination it isn't necessary to remove the gel capsule. What it does is to prevent the seeds in tomatoes that fall to the ground in the fall to not germinate until conditions are OK in the Spring....those are our volunteers.

    And yes, there are many tomato pathogens, such as the foliage pathogens and more, that adhere to the seed coat. Not all of them are removed, but they are lessened in number and since infection is a quantitative process it helps a lot.

    And it's said that certian of the fungi and bacteria present in that mat that forms on top of the fermentation produce antibiotics which can help destroy the bacterial pathogens altho most of those are found in the seed endosperm.

    And the acidic conditions help to destroy any free virus b'c most virus pathogens are also found in the endosperm of the seed although there's lots more to be studied re virus pathogen location.

    Finally, you get fluffy nice seeds that don't stick together b'c of their gel capsules.

    When I first joined SSE back in the late 80's I used to get seeds sent to me on toilet tissue, paper towels, newspapers and more. But just a few years later folks started realizing how benficial it is to ferment and since the mid 90's all the seeds I received were fermented.

    Most large commercial seed producers also ferment their seeds and then some may use a TSP or acid further treatment, TSP being trisodium phosphate. I would not recommend TSP or acid for home growers b'c it's quite caustic/

    Carolyn

  • korney19
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    There's a fine line sometimes between fermentation and over-fermentation... what I mean is... if you wait too long, the little sprouts disintegrate into the mix... so, they could have sprouted and disintegrated and not know it and think everything went fine.

    I have found, sometimes, that looking for the fizz bubbles, by the time you see them, some of the seeds are still caught in the goop at/below the surface and some seeds are at the bottom--if you wait for all/most of the seeds to sink, the earlier ones sometimes sprout by then. That's why I shake it up... the mold, if there was any, breaks apart, becomes part of the liquid, but then reforms soon after anyway.

    I know we went thru similar discussions in the past regarding stirring/shaking vs just leaving them alone. I think maybe Deppe or Bubel does it one way (I thing Byron argued that point years ago) and Carolyn did it the other way.

    As for covered/uncovered, I've tried paper towel with rubber bands, no cover, covered with holes or slits, etc. I won't do it uncovered anymore because of the maggots/larvae that I find in it--besides, I do the rinsing in the main bathroom and can do without the larvae in the sink.

    Likewise those small, narrow, black beetles with the yellow on their backs... anybody know what they are? I hate picking up a cracked tomato and having one crawl out.

  • carolyn137
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    As for covered/uncovered, I've tried paper towel with rubber bands, no cover, covered with holes or slits, etc. I won't do it uncovered anymore because of the maggots/larvae that I find in it--besides, I do the rinsing in the main bathroom and can do without the larvae in the sink.

    *****

    Mark, give me 10 good reasons why you would EVER process your seeds inside. LOL

    As for the maggots and larvae and floating beetles, I just see it as part of the local fauna. LOL

    And if the maggots show up on the paper plate you dump the seeds out on just move them with a pencil to a place where there's no moisture on the plate and they die a slow but beautiful death. LOL

    Of course I have to be careful to remove the dried dead maggots when I send out seeds to others and if any seeds I ever sent you had some I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you'd let me know.

    OK, so I'm exaggerating a bit here, but sheesh, don't process seeds inside, pretty please? ( smile)

    Carolyn

  • HoosierCheroKee
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Below I'll touch on some things that have helped me improve my fermenting process over the past few years:

    1: 8-oz clear plasic cups allow you to see what's going on. A dollar store sells them cheap in sleaves of 50. A Sharpie is great to clearly mark the tomato names on the sides of the cup while it's still dry and just before extracting the seeds into the cups.

    2: Ferment in the garage or the yard barn where you can leave the tops open for good air circulation and have a can of room deoderant handy.

    3: Gently swirl the cups every day to stir the mix a bit, loosen some seeds from the floating gunk, but leave the forming mat in place.

    4: Ferment for at no less than 3 and no more than 4 days especially in hot weather. Very occasionally seeds from overripe tomatoes might be done in 2 or 2 and a half days. Basically, when you see the majority of the seeds sink to the bottom and at least a white scum forming on top ... that's the minimum.

    5: Only add water when absolutely necessary. Sacrifice a tomato or two for it's juice. Big deal. You should have a garden full anyway. I wouldn't use the juice of one tomato for fermenting a different variety even if I squeezed it through a wire strainer. Too risky. And if that previous poster was suggesting canned tomato juice ... too much salt. Using unchlorinated bottled water won't inhibit the ferment too much.

    6. As Mark observed, seeds will sprout in short order in hot weather. If sprouted seeds are imminent, rinse the ferment early and rub them around in a wire strainer to remove any clinging matter.

    7. When using a wire strainer, knock the seeds back into a rinse bowl to float off the remaining crud and any floating seeds.

    8. Use a deep 3-quart rinsing bowl and never squirt water into the ferment cups with a hose ... that seems to risk splash back and seeds flying into another nearby cup of a different variety. Using the deep bowl like a gold miner's pan and a good swirling motion will collect the good sinkers into a mass in the bottom of the bowl so you can float off the crud and underdeveloped seeds.

    9. Whenever using a strainer to rub off any clinging matter, thoroughly inspect it afterward and before straining another variety. Look on the bottom side too especially when scrubbing seeds because some little ones might be forced through to the other side or into crevaces in the frame of the strainer. Nothing is gonna ruin your day worse than a stray seed getting into the wrong batch.

    10. A good precaution is some diluted bleach to treat in the final rinsing process followed up with a few more rinses to wash off the bleach residue. That should kill any surface pathogens.

    11. When first dumping the ferment into the rinsing bowl, set the cup with the variety name up in front of you just in case the phone rings or you get distracted ... that way you know what's in the bowl. Same transfering the washed seed to a paper plate or coffee filter ... alway label the plate or filter first just in case you get distracted after dumping out the seeds onto the drying surface.

    12. Always rinse and inspect hands, fingers, sides of hands, backs of hands, fingernails, bowl, strainer, etc. between batches to make dang sure there are no stray seeds to fall into the next batch. You will occasionally find a few, so it's well worth the time to look closely.

    13. ALWAYS do these things when no one is at home ... not just for the lack of distraction ... but because they'll think you're a complete maniac.

    I hope some of these things are legit and will help you with your efforts.

    Bill

  • korney19
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My outside hose is tied up...
    I have better lighting inside at midnight...
    My paper towel roll won't get wet indoors...
    I can dump off the bad stuff into the toilet & flush it away...
    The hamper is the right working height to lay the paper towel sheets on...
    The bathroom sink has hot water...
    The hot water rinse at 120 degrees is similar to a hot water treatment...
    I have less distance to walk to the plant[ing] room where the seeds get stored until dry...
    No yellow jackets in the house...
    I pass by my room back and forth so my mother can't try stealing anything from it when I'm around...
    I can "go" if I need to?

  • carolyn137
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    That's eleven reasons Mark.

    See, I told you that you couldn't list 10 reasons. LOL

    Carolyn

  • oldroser
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I do mine inside on the kitchen windowsill where I can keep an eye on them - handy to water and paper towels. I'm old enough to have senior moments and if they were outside, I'd forget about them sure as....
    Why not inside? Out of the way of bugs and flies, warm but not too warm (generally about 75 degrees) and very, very convenient. Of course, I'm only doing a few - maybe if you have a lot to do, you need more room than just a windowsill.
    And once they get dumped out onto a labeled paper towel lined plate and dry, I can roll up the towel, seeds and all, and put it in a mason jar in the fridge.

  • stage_rat
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    On the subject of fermenting too long and getting sprouted seeds, I'd like to mention my experience of fermenting seeds for weeks without germination occurring.

    I first got information for fermenting seeds from a Rodale book, which gave instructions written by the author of Seed to Seed. She did say to add water, and did warn against over-fermenting. But there was no time limit given, so until I saw that most seeds had dropped to the bottom, I kept fermenting. The longest fermentation was maybe 3 weeks. The following spring, I had great germination.

    Last summer, I fermented too many seeds for the amount of time I had, and I left a lot of them sitting outside for several weeks. (And it's kind of hard to get around to rinsing the seeds when the chore is so very foul! I will not ferment uncovered seeds outside again!) Some containers did have seeds that germinated in the liquid, but most containers of seeds did not. I ran germination tests to make sure the ones that looked ok were ok, and they tested fine. (5 or 6 out of 6)

    There's no great reason to ferment for such a long period, but if you forget about the seeds, get too busy, etc., or you just didn't think enough fermentation occurred and you let it go longer, just do a germination check and your seeds are probably fine.

  • anney
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, it seems to me that the purpose of fermenting tomato seeds is to kill any pathogens that might be present in the tomato or on the seeds, though it can't kill pathogens in the seed itself.

    Drying them puts them into suspended animation until they're "awakened" by water or our efforts to get them to germinate.

    Wouldn't it work just as well to save the trouble of fermenting them but instead swish the seeds in water to get rid of the gel and then rinse the seeds in water with a bit of bleach added? Then dry them? Wouldn't that make them as pathogen-free as fermenting them?

  • HoosierCheroKee
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "Wouldn't it work just as well to save the trouble of fermenting them but instead swish the seeds in water to get rid of the gel and then rinse the seeds in water with a bit of bleach added? Then dry them? Wouldn't that make them as pathogen-free as fermenting them?" [anney]

    Anney,

    If you were to remove the gel by some other method than fermentation, then treat the seeds to a sufficient bleach bath, final rinse, and drying procedure, yes I think that would render them as pathogen free as if you were to ferment them by a traditional process.

    It may take more than a swish in water to remove the gel coat however. I have removed the gel coat successfully and easily by scrubbing the seeds against the bottom of a wire mesh strainer then knocked them out into a bowl for a quick soak in warm water and Clorox followed by a couple of swirling rinses to float away any remaining crud and floating seeds (which usually aren't gonna germinate). The only drawback I see to that method is the wearing away of one's finger tips :::grin:::

    Other folks have had good success with using trisodium phosphate (TSP) as a chemical means of removing the gel coat and killing the surface pathogens. One fellow who used to post here says to do that similarly to what I describe above using a strainer and putting the TSP directly onto the seeds in the strainer while scubbing, then rinsing and floating off the light seeds. WARNING: TSP is caustic to human flesh too!

    Another person who posts here suggests using an abrasive kitchen cleanser with bleach (like Dutch Boy or Comet) and letting the extracted seeds soak in it for a while, then rinsing them off in strainer. The lady who did this let her seeds soak in the kitchen cleanser for an hour, which I thought excessive, but she test germinated her seeds afterwards and got nearly 100% sprouts!

    For that matter, you could probably use Soft Scrub or play sand and a spray tub and tile cleaner, Mean Green, Greased Lightening, or some other chlorine based household liquid as a combo abrasive/bleach agent. Whatever would remove the gel coat and cleanse the seed jacket without damaging the endosperm probably would work just fine.

    Here are some links to other suggestions and discussions about saving tomato seeds:

    Scroll Down to Page 7 for Fermentation Etc.

    Another Lengthy Discussion at GW

    Large Scale Professional Seed Production

    Small Scale But Professional Breeder's Method

    Ohio State Hot Water and Bleach Bath Treatments Fact Sheet

  • anney
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Interesting, hoosiercherokee. Thanks.

    I guess it's the clinging gel that's a pain to get rid of and that's why people ferment the seeds, which dissolves the gel AND renders them mostly pathogen-free.

    One last question if anybody knows. Would the dried up gel clinging to dried seeds "reconstitute itself" at full strength and effectively prevent germination after several months of winter rest?

    I did read that extensive GW link about fermenting tomatoes seeds and saw that one person said she just spreads the seeds and gel on a paper towel and dries them like that. She separates them later, doesn't worry about the gel, and has no problems with germination. I think she did mention that sometimes she can't separate a bunch of the seeds that dry together in the gel so she plants the bunch and then thins to one.

    When I read that, that's when I began to wonder if seeds actually need to be fermented. I would, however, want to render them as pathogen-free as possible myself and think I'd at least rinse them with a bleach solution. That settled, my remaining question is about the longevity of the gel.

  • outsiders71
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I found this idea of fermenting to be totally new myself. My grandpa has been growing tomatoes for the majority of his life and has never fermented before. I have grown some of his saved seeds which did have a clear coat on them, but didn't notice any germination or disease problems.

    Regardless I'm trying the fermentation method to see what it's all about. I used small plastic cups and covered with plastic wrap. My question is how much tomato juice is needed to ferment? I have just enough fluid in the cups to submerge the seeds, should I add a few cm's of water because it won't be possible to see the seeds drop.

    Thanks

  • anney
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    outsiders

    As you can see in this thread, while some people don't recommend adding water, it seems to be because the additional water slows the fermenting process somewhat. If you add only a little water, I don't think it will hurt anything at all, certainly not the seeds.

  • outsiders71
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well after 3 days 2 of the 3 cups had white stuff growing on the surface. I brought it in and drained the goop as the directions said and noticed some of the seed sprouted. I also noticed that some of the seeds didn't lose their gel casing. Is there any way to get more uniform results?

  • korney19
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ironic this thread popped back up to the top again!

    I'm doing 14 batches deseeded 2 & 3 days ago... just did 8 of the 14 and 5 of the 8 had some sprouted! Didn't keep track of which were 2 or 3 day, but the thing that I did differently this time for these:

    I didn't shake them daily.

    Many had mold on the surface but most had little or few seeds on the bottom of the cup. Many were stuck in the goop in the top inch below the surface. I only shook them about an hour or 2 before rinsing & at rinse time. If I didn't shake them while outside and see them disperse throught the liquid, I probably would have thought they weren't ready yet and waited at least another day.

    Temps were in the low 80's & upper 70's so don't think that affected it. I'd bet the sprouters were 3 days and the good ones were 2 days, would have to check my camera to see which were Tuesday & which were Wednesday.

    I'll go back to shaking daily.

  • korney19
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I didn't reread all the posts in this thread but where did it say that water would slow the sprouting? If anything it may accelerate it. I do agree however to add a little water if the total amount in the cup is very low... or use a narrower, taller cup... or wait til you have more maters of the same variety.

  • gonefishin
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Korney, way back up near the top of this thread I made the following observation, which may have somehow been misconstrued or taken literally and become the basis for that thought:

    > >It seems to me that if you devote the whole tomato to saving seed, cut it horizontally at the equator and squeeze both halves out to remove the seed, you may have enough juice and pulp without adding any water. If you are like me and want to eat an exceptionally good tomato and save the seeds too, you may dip the seeds, or most of them, out and wind up with not enough contents and that is when I may add a little water. I have not been able to tell much difference, the ones without chlorinated water may start to ferment a little quicker.I reinterate that I said that I have not been able to tell much difference, then went on to speculate that the ones without chlorinated water MAY ferment a little quicker.

    That was just my speculation that the chlorine in the water before it gassed out, might help to kill some bacteria which could contribute to the fermenting process, but if so, it would not seem to be significant since I have not been able to tell much difference. I just needed a little more liquid from time to time, in a few of the jars that I use and thought that it was the right thing to do. It seemed to work fine. I do not have any test tubes or similar tall skinney containers and would not want to use them anyway. Things seem to have worked perfectly fine the way I have been doing them, no noticible disease problems that I could attribute to the seed. They have saved and kept fine and germination rates have been very good. What more could I ask?
    Just my .02
    Bill P.

  • johnh9600
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    This may be a little off topic, but can anyone suggest the best time to order my seeds for next season? Is now too soon?
    Thanks,
    John

  • gonefishin
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    John, not everyone will agree with me, I expect, but since seed are usually viable for a number of years if saved correctly, I think now would be a fine time, if the ones you want are in stock. I went ahead and ordered another packet of Burpee's Porterhouse recently and have put it in with my other saved seed.

    Depending on the economics of things around your house, you can often find some very good seeds at the dollar stores, and on racks near the end of the season, or on special. My experience with those seeds has been that they are every bit as good as the big name retailers seeds. The selection is just not as good. That can be of importance when some of the online and cataloge sellers are getting 4 bucks plus for a packet of seed and more than that for shipping. If you anticipate wanting to buy quite a few seeds of different varieties, I think that it would be advisable to get a good list together, do some comparative shopping on line and order as many of your selections at one time from one place to save a good bit on shopping, perhaps.
    Just my .02
    Bill P.

  • johnh9600
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks, Bill. Sounds like good advice. My next task is to figure out what to plant. I've been having some success with Roma and Lemon Boy and have gotten my feet wet with them over the last two years. Now I'm ready to try something different and from seed instead of hardware-store-bought transplants. Thanks again for your suggestions.
    John

  • yardenman
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My thanks to everyone for the great advice on how to save tomato seeds. I've printed out Hoosiercherokee's excellent summary to add to my tomato notebook (and added a few good notes from other posts).

    It looks like my first attempt (2 years ago) to save seeds myself was "insufficiently informed". ;) I didn't isolate the blossoms (just chose a good fruit when ripe) and all I did to save the seeds was water-blast the gel off and then let then dry on paper towels.

    Peraps that explains the poor germination I had this year and perhaps the disease problems of the "Brandywines". My seeds may have been hybridized and they may have carried some pathogens. I will be starting over with new seeds next year and try to do it right. I REALLY want to start saving my own seeds (properly) adapted to my local conditions.

    But I also have a question I haven't seen addressed. WHEN do you save seeds (choose a few blossoms to isolate)? Do you isolate the 1st blossoms, the ones that will fruit at mid-harvest, or the later blossoms? And does WHERE matter (middle or top, inside or outside of plant)?

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm new to the whole fermentation/disinfection methods. My seeds have fermented nicely. Fun, but stinky! Now, what concentration of bleach should I use? I have "laundry" bleach around. Do I dilute it, use it as is, or do I need some other kind?

    Also, if blossoms have not been isolated is cross pollination almost certain, rare, or somewhere inbetween....I'm asking in regards to tomatoes. I know it would be a big problem with most other veggies.

  • digdirt2
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    10% bleach solution is the usual recommendation - 1 part bleach to 10 parts water - tho some use a stronger solution. There is a link in one of the posts above to Ohio State's details and pics if you need them. Chlorox or similar laundry bleach.

    Cross pollination in tomatoes is possible but relatively rare - avgs. no more than 3-5% according to most who have measured it. There are several previous discussions on it that a search here will find - just use "tomato cross pollination".

    Dave

  • carolyn137
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Cross pollination in tomatoes is possible but relatively rare - avgs. no more than 3-5% according to most who have measured it. There are several previous discussions on it that a search here will find - just use "tomato cross pollination".

    Dave

    *****

    Or go to the top of this first page and click on the FAQ link and go to the excellent FAQ on How to Prevent Cross Pollination.

    Carolyn

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks for the quick help. My seeds have been bleached, heated, and are now drying. From what I read at the OSU site (great link BTW) I think I didn't need the bleach if I was going to heat....but, hey, it looked fun so I did both. Hope that doesn't drop the germination too much. However, I have other seeds of this variety that have not been treated and could even BUY more if needed, so it's all good.

    I really am trying to convince myself that an auto stirrer and hot water bath would be reasonable purchases. The Ohio State pictures looked great. Might go good with the digital scale on the kitchen counter. But maybe I need more than a few spoonfuls of seeds before it is really necessary :)

  • digdirt2
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I really am trying to convince myself that an auto stirrer and hot water bath would be reasonable purchases. The Ohio State pictures looked great. Might go good with the digital scale on the kitchen counter. But maybe I need more than a few spoonfuls of seeds before it is really necessary :)

    All purely optional - not required in any way. Thousands of us save seeds annually with nothing but old plastic containers, a tea strainer, and cheapo coffee filters. ;)

    Dave

  • carolyn137
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Nature Girl, hot water treatment is used for commercial purposes pretty much alone, and for the reason that several of the **systemic bacterial** pathogens are known to be in the endosperm of the seed.

    The location of most viral pathogens is suspected of being in the endosperm as well, but not known for sure. TMV is known to be on the outside of the seed coat and treating with certain chemicals can lessen those. But since TMV is no longer a problem in most areas for home growers that isn't one I'd worry about either.

    In my opinion there's no need to water treat seeds for home use. If you want to, and/or you have known problems with the **systemic**, not **foliar** bacterial pathogens, which are on the seed coat along with the fungal ones, then that would be one reason .

    But that would only really apply to home saved seeds as I see it and the common fungal and foliar pathogens are THE most common diseases everywhere..

    Carolyn

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Good to know the heat treatment isn't necessary. Thanks carolyn and digdirt. Having worked in labs in the past, the equipment and methods for heating caught my eye. There is no way (well, probably no way....never say never)I would get such equipment for my kitchen....though I have greatly enjoyed the digital scale. My comment was mostly in jest.

    I used my candy making thermometer which showed hot tap water to be right at the needed temp. Not sure I would have continued if the tap water hadn't happened to be the perfect temp. I slowly let it run into the jar and overflow keeping it at a constant temp. I'll see how it affects germination....good to know the diseases that heat might kill are not big problems. It is fun though to imagine the various experiments one could do if time and garden space were endless :)

    Just started more seeds fermenting. They're in see-through containers now. I'll watch for bubbles and seeds dropping this time. I'm afraid I may be hooked.

  • HoosierCheroKee
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Nature Girl,

    I included the link to Ohio State University's fact sheet because I find their stuff pretty reliable.

    Here it is again for anyone reading this thread from the bottom: OSU Bleach and Hot Water Bath

    Hey ... some clarification for those who may not have read the fact sheet really closely ... and regarding "10% bleach solution" or other phraseology used above in this thread ...

    Laundry bleach like Clorox or Purex is a 5.25% solution of sodium hypochlorite in water. When someone says they're using a "10% bleach solution" and then goes on to tell you that's "one part bleach to ten parts water" ... that means they are using roughly a 0.525% sodium hypochlorite solution, which is rather weak for a quick kill of pathogens on the surface of tomato seeds, IMO. And ... they aren't using a "10% solution of sodium hypochlorite" which some folks commonly refer to as "bleach" for swimming pools and spas.

    If you read the OSU fact sheet closely, you'll see they recommend using 25 ounces (roughly 3 cups) of laundry bleach (at 5.25%) to 100 ounces of water. That conveniently fills a 1-gallon container (1 gallon = 128 fluid ounces). NOTE: OSU also recommends using a fresh batch of bleach solution for each batch of seeds AND they are using the solution at a rate of one gallon PER POUND of seed. I don't think most of us need to be mixing up a gallon of solution :::smile::: so, I suggest you simply mix as you go ... 1 part Clorox or Purex to 4 parts water.

    BTW, using OSU recommended 1:4, laundry bleach to water, yields 1.3125% sodium hypochlorite solution which is not quite 3 times stronger than 1:10, laundry bleach to water, at 0.525%.

    One reason I bring these "bleach solution percentages" up, is that swimming pool supply stores, farm supply stores, and home improvement stores sell 10% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) for pools and spas in gallon jugs, and I wouldn't want anyone pouring that directly on seeds or confusing it with a recommended product for seed treatment.

    Also, I'd like to add a few comments on a few experiences since this thread began ...

    I bleach-treated a couple thousand fermented Spudakee (Cherokee Purple, PL) seeds with a strong solution of Chlorox and water, 1:3, for five minutes and longer. I found you have to rinse them really good to get all the "slickness" of the bleach off ... actually, I used a squirt of Dawn anti-bacterial dish soap to clean them while rinsing the bleach off in a strainer. That got them really squeaky clean.

    After two weeks drying, I test germinated 56 seeds and got 48 germinated in 72 hours plus another 4 germinated in the following 2 days. Only four seeds failed to germinate. That's about 93% germination, which I find acceptable.

    Another method I'm working on is squeezing the seeds directly into a stainless strainer and coating them with a glob of Calgon dishwasher detergent with bleach, letting them sit 30 minutes, and scrubbing them clean. This works particularly well for dry fleshed paste tomatoes that don't have many seeds and don't have sufficient gel and juice to ferment without the addition of water. Note: I haven't test germinated any seeds processed this way yet, and you should be aware that Calgon dishwasher detergent contains significant phosphates.

    Bill