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trudi_d

Saving Tomato Seeds without Fermentation

trudi_d
14 years ago

I save tomato seeds using a powdered disinfectant cleanser (llike Ajax or Comet). It's a simple procdure that is over from start to finsih in less than an hour--and--you actually get a half-hour break while doing it

I've put this information into a brochure and saved it as a pdf so you can download the information.

If you have questions I'll be happy to answer them. I do hope you'll all give this a try as it is so EASY TO DO!

T

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Save Your Own Tomato Seeds (pdf)

Comments (42)

  • containerted
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Trudi, I see you knocked one "ear" off your strainer, too. These modern plastic ones just don't hold up. :>)

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I knocked the other ear off last week. I need to get an upgrade from teh dollar store.

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    Thanks everyone for all the input and advice! I wanted a lot of seeds because I hoped to offer them to the people on seed savers forum who donated seeds to a program with people who have profound disabilities where I work. These are probably a named tomato but I don't know the variety. The Swartzentruber Amish family I buy them from doesn't know the type. They just call it a low acid tomato and have been saving the seeds for "a long time". The plants produce an amazing yield of large to very large tomatoes. The fruit is meaty and most are round or oblong, rarely lumpy and excellent for slicing. They have good old fashioned flavor. I actually like the flavor of the brandywine and better yet, Cleota Pinks a little more, but these are very worthy tomatoes. From the road or vegetable stand I can't tell if the plants are potato leafed or not. I did save seeds from several nice tomatoes that weren't blanched. Instead of fermenting them the way I usually do, I placed them in a tupperware sandwich container with pinholes punched all through the lid (from different project). They got moldy!!!!!! Don't know if I'll have any to share or not. Might go buy a few more. They sell individually for .50 a piece. So.. that's the story behind the seeds! Linda Renee
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  • colokid
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Shee....20 meg download. Strained Q-west's poor old wires on that.
    Kenny

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    THis is a color pdf. I'll have the info online in pages in a few more days ;-)

  • colokid
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Great job Trudi, I just wanted to warn any one that is still on dial-up modem. We some times forget about them.
    Kenny

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My apologies Kenny too, I think I will need to make an easier download B+W version too.

    Ahhh. Now, where's that list of things to do....

  • nandina
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Trudi, I have been using a variation of your method for many years. Cut tomato in half. Scoop out seeds with a spoon and smear them (along with the gel) on a double thickness of paper towel using the back of the spoon. Very lightly sprinkle Comet over all, fold paper towel into a square and tape shut. Label. I have a large, flat basket on top of the fridge where I toss all my prepared seed packets to air dry over the winter. At planting time I remove tomato seeds with the tip of a knife as they will be stuck to the paper towel, then rinse them quickly in a small strainer and plant. You might want to try this method, also.

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That's a really good variation Nandina.

    T

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That's a really good variation Nandina.

    T

  • tomatogreenthumb
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I had been fermenting mine, but the past week I started just washing the seeds in tap water and decanting off the icky stuff. Takes about 6 washings. Then I pour the seeds, still in a small amt. of water, onto a styrofoam plate and let them dry. Hope the chlorine in the tap water is sufficient to disinfect them.

    I never use a strainer.

    Here is a pic of the Pineapple I picked yesterday, and plan on saving seeds this evening. It weighed in at 35 ounces.

    {{gwi:126307}}

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Druel. Slurp.

  • sautesmom Sacramento
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I use coffee filters rather than paper towels, because they hold up better, FYI.

    Carla in Sac

  • glitterglass
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Can you use the seeds from a tomato you purchase at the store? At this rate in the season I think it will be a miracle if I get even one... :0?

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sure you can glitterglass, they do produce viable seeds. Supermarket tomatoes are usually stable hybrids, they will reproduce truly or set very, very similar fruits.

    Romas and Cherry tomatoes are two I think that will produce tasty fruits in your backyard from saved supermarket tomato seeds. The round and red types are bred for uniformity of size and the ability to not rot on the way to market after they've been picked and stored while mostly green. Basically, the round and red supermarket sleeve of tomatoes is very firm and stays that way indefinately.

    Check around your area and see if there is a farmer's market and do go there--there's likely some vendors with heirloom tomatoes. Get a few, have a taste, and save the seeds of your faves. If you get heirloom toms from a vendor have them help you to write the correct names down for each tomato so that when you save their seeds you can label them accurately.

    T

  • oregon_veg
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    It's a simple procdure that is over from start to finsih in less than an hour-
    -------------------------------------

    I cut my tomatoes, squeeze them into a glass container, set on window sill. = 5 minutes

    Take a 3 day break

    Rinse, scoop out mold and bad seeds, rinse, lay out on paper plate
    = 3 minutes

    take a 2 day break

    scoop into envelopes = 3 minutes

    Total = 11 minutes

    Okay, the breaks are long, but total work is what I look at :-)

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I redid the pdf--the url is the same but the file size is much smaller ;-)

    T

  • mule
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I would not recommend this process for long term storage of seeds.

    Here is why:

    the physical action of the silica (an abrasive and a carcinogen) could damage the testa (seed coat) such that the chlorine, sodium and whatever else is in the cleaner enters the endopserm (stored food) and causes oxidative stress. This could reduce viability. (God only knows what else those companies dispose of as "inert ingredients" in those products).

    Bleach (without silica) is recommended as a pre-plant treatment to remove surface contaminates and in some cases also help breakdown the testa (seed coat) so that water can move in and break physical dormancy (also may help with short term lipid peroxidation). This technique is recommended for many of the species tomatoes such as those that pass through the acidic guts of tortoise.

    TGRC Seed germination

    I agree completely with oregon_veg in that fermentation collectively takes less or a similar amount of time.

    If one wants to speed up fermentation this is easy to do with a more environmentally friendly product called Pectinase. This is easy to obtain and is also sometimes used with acid baths by commercial seed companies in the "de-bearding process" of tomato seed. Pectinase enzymes can be found in brewing stores or with canning goods.

    Using pectinase to speed the process might also reduce flies but I have another simple solution for that, smells and spillage - use a lid!

    My current BFF are the new plastic gerber baby food containers. They are great for small samples and have lids! Just stick some masking tape on the side for a label and you are good to go.

    They look like this:

    {{gwi:1387383}}

    No flies, no smell (well until you take the lid off) and no worry about spilling.

    For larger amounts try going to the dollar store and buy tupperware pint or quart freezer containers (usually get 2-5 for 1$).

    {{gwi:1387385}}

    The newer Gladware throw away containers work equally as well ...

    ...but do cost a little more and are not as sturdy as the tupperware ones. Also unlike the tupperware ones some of the lids are so tight they pop off easily from the gases building up.

    I find no problem with using a lid. They still ferment just fine. All the containers are fairly easy to see thru so you can see when they are ready without opening.

    Obviously rinse them out and dont throw away and you can use next year.

    Hydrochloric acid is used commercially for a SHORT period prior to drying and sale. Either a 1.5%HCl (when combined with pectinase) or a 5% HCl solution for 5 minutes is used. That is then rinse repeatedly before drying the seed.

    Other pre-plant alternatives for disease surface sterilization are 30 minute soaks in:

    sodium carbonate (sorry dont recall the rate offhand)
    Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) about 2oz to a pint of warm water.

    both should be rinsed several times and then seed sown.

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    So Mule, how long do you say seeds cleaned with a sanitizing scrub would last?

    I see you used the word "could" -- why?

    What are the germinaton differences between chemical and abrasive scarification?

    Hydrochloric acid is used commercially for a SHORT period prior to drying and sale. Either a 1.5%HCl (when combined with pectinase) or a 5% HCl solution for 5 minutes is used. That is then rinse repeatedly before drying the seed.

    They sell this at the supermarket, and do they have industrial protective gloves and eye glasses too?

  • colokid
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    In the past I just scraped them into a glass on the back of the sink for a few days, then cleaned them up and dryed. Guess I will have to change my ways. :-)

  • containerted
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Trudi, check your Emails

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sometimes I have problems with my email Ted, if you sent me a message it's not there now so please resend.

    Kindly,

    Trudi

  • k2marsh
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I dont save a lots of seeds, but I just cut the tomato from top to bottom. I just take out the seeds without much pulp. I put the seeds in a glass bottle, and lay the lid on top. I leave it their for three days. Their isnÂt much mold as I donÂt have much pulp.

    I eat the tomato.

    When the seeds go to the bottom I take the seeds out, and wash them in a strainer. Then I put them on a big plastic lid to dry. Glass will work. The seeds will stick if you put them on paper.

    After the seeds are dry I make an envelope, and place the seeds in the envelope. Then I put the seeds in a plastic food container that has a tight lid. I then place the seeds in the refrigerator.

    See my Flicker photo giving instructions on how to make a seed envelope.

    Karyl
    ====

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That's a very nice packet template, your instructions are very easy to follow too ;-)

  • digdirt2
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Coffee filters are good for drying. They don't stick to them like they do to other paper stuff.

    Dave

    PS: nice seed packet Karyl. Thanks.

  • oregon_veg
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    IMHO, This thread seems to be complicating a very simple process.
    I see no need to spend money on chemicals for something that can be done for free and a less amount of time.

    I think everyone's over thinking. :-)

  • k2marsh
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You don't have to type your information on the envelope if you don't want to. You can just write it with a pen.

    This is a very easy way to make an envelope of any size for what ever you want to use it for.

    An envelope makes seed saving easier.

    Karyl
    =====

  • mule
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I see you used the word "could" -- why?

    why not?
    kudos to the dude with the Dean

    What are the germinaton differences between chemical and abrasive scarification?

    That would not really be relevant to the discussion of saving seeds as these are pre-planting techniques to help aid germination when sowing - not storing.

    Scaring or damaging the seed coat prior to storage could lead to degradation of the stored foods and compounds in the seed needed for or during germination. Silica under the microscope is like little needles. That's why it works well as an abrasive and also why it is dangerous to cell membrane and cells in the lungs and nose.

    Chlorine has it's own set of issues.

    Many cleaning products are not that safe. Ajax and Comet happen to be two questionable ones taken for granted.

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Mule, this doesn't remove the seed coat so I'm not to sure that silica would get into the cotyledon. Removing the seed coat can be accomplished with an acid which is dangerous to respiratory cell membranes and it does a major number on skin too.

  • MrsJustice
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hello Trudi

    I missed you? I wish I could use your seeds, because I lost so many new heirlooms with the my wood chip problems.

    I did sale a lot of bush & stones, and it sad I will have to use that money for process manure and certified seeds next year.

    Take care.

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Mrs Justice,

    Please check your email, I sent you a note ;-)

    Trudi

  • irish_rose_grower
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm kind of new to growing tomatoes, and I'm wondering, why can we just let the seeds dry without doing anything? Will they not germinate this way?

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yes, you can just put the seeds on a plate to dry and they will later germinate. Rose, if you're saving seeds for yourself that's a great way to have seeds for next year to grow again. Reducing pathogens on the seed exterior is something I like to do because I share seeds globally.

    I originally saved and uploaded the pdf at a high resolution, a few days later I resaved it at a lower resolution and it will now load much faster. Use the link below for the faster loading pdf.

  • ddsack
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sure they will germinate. It's only that if they dry with the reddish material and gel coat still on them, it's almost like trying to scrape them out of dried glue when they dry. My mom gave me seeds she saved this way on wax paper, and they germinated for many years. It was just a little more trouble to separate them out for planting.

    Either fermenting or scrub washing with the powdered stuff removes the gel coat so the seeds dry clean, and is more likely to destroy a few disease organisms which may be on the seeds.

    For the average gardener who just wants to save a few seeds for their own personal use, it doesn't really matter much how or if you treat them. If you plan to trade seeds, your trading partners will appreciate cleaned seeds.

    If I do big batches, I use fermentation. This year, due to the late summer, I noticed much more bee activity during blossoming so I'm not planning on saving seeds since crosses are likely. But a few of the new varieties have been so tasty that I couldn't help myself from gouging out and scraping the seeds off the cutting board. There was not enough left of the tomato for fermentation juice (I ate it), so I was happy that Trudi posted this alternate method which worked very well for the unplanned tiny batches that I did.

  • containerted
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I use fermentation regardless of batch size. On the drying table right now are 30 little seeds from a variety I found growing by the road. It was one 2 inch round bright red globe - nearly perfectly round. I also just finished packing over 800 Cherokee Purple seeds from one batch. (Trudi!!!?? :>) -)

    I cut the larger tomatoes into thick slices and using the point of a very sharp knife, carefully cut the seed gel masses away from the meat of the fruit and into a strainer. The strainer is above a container which catches the juice. This allows me to put the remainder of the tomato into the dehydrator. The seeds which are still in the gel mass are then gently scrubbed against the screen of the strainer enough to break up the globs and catch more juice. Breaking up the globs like this, I feel gives the little "microbe critters" a head start, a thinner gel to dissolve, and a much better chance of getting their job done. I also think we have to stir the mixture often during fermentation to further help break up gel around the seeds.

    Several tap water rinses get rid of all the debris and a 4 to 1 water/bleach rinse followed by more rinsing until I don't smell the bleach finishes the chemistry part.

    I spread them on a paper plate (cheapest, flimsiest) and after 2 to 3 days take a credit card size piece of plastic and gently loosen the seeds that are still gently stuck to the plate. 2 more days and into small ziplocks and a coin envelope marked with the variety and the date saved.

    I don't think I care for the TSP or AJAX or Comet or other scouring cleaners. It's because I just don't like even the "possibility" of damaging the seed coat. Having said that, I DON'T KNOW that the grit WILL damage the seed coat, but until time proves differently, I choose to think the possibility is there. Good tomatoes are hard enough to grow. For me, damaged seed coats would be like starting the race with an unnecessary, self-imposed handicap.

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you Ted, 800 seeds? Wow.

    I haven't found the seed coats damaged, my germination tests have been excellent, but your eyes are in your own head. I suggest you give this a try with something as disposable as a supermarket tomato--with YOUR OWN EYES you will see how it goes for you and the seeds.

    I can talk about this or so many other things until I am blue in the face, but every time I tell people to try it themselves to see what it is and how it works. Only trying and doing on your own will satisfy intense curiosity ;-)

    And in the meantime, if anyone would like to view this information directly on the web it is now available online instead of only in pdf version; click below on "How to Save Tomato Seeds".

    Many people ferment their tomato seeds and that works fine for them. I think Ted, and anyone else, that it's important to understand that my yins and yangs balance here; I understand that people need to do what they feel most comfortable with. If you google "save tomato seeds" the first hit is a GW FAQ. I think it's important for me to state that I will not be changing the information found at:
    http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/seedsave/2002084456024410.html

    There's lots of different ways to have excellent success with saving seeds, trading seeds, storing seeds, and germinating them too ;-)

    T

  • containerted
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yeah and more. Maybe end of next week. :>)

    Trudi is right about different folks and many different ways of saving seeds. One of experts who posts here on GW is HoosierCherokee. He also suggests the use of a scouring type of grit. His indorsement of the practice is enough to cause one to think positively.

    Trudi also makes a good point when she says her germination rates are high. Germination is what it's all about. You may be winning me over.

    I think the main thing about Trudi's method is that it's easy to do. That means a lot for newcomers who enter this most wonderful hobby and obsession. Newcomers need things to be easy to understand to boost confidence factors. Her procedure can easily do that.

    LOL :>)

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you Ted very much. You nailed it on the head that newcomers need things to be easy to understand to boost confidance factors. Personally, I have to sometimes do things five, six, seventeen, eighteen times before I get it right; I NEED easy. Probably many people with very complicated lives need easy too.

    I think my favorite reason for liking to give tomato seeds a sani-scrub is that it's over and done with quickly. Maybe five minutes total work-time and I can turn my concentration to something else because I know I've got a plate of seeds drying on the bookshelf where the cat can't sit her butt down on that plate--I've saved my seeds from the tomato, but it's just as important that I save my seeds from the cat dislodging them from their plate and possibly contaminating the purity of the seeds on other plates because kitty has redeposited Plate A seeds onto Plates B, C, and D ;-( It is VERY important to rest your plates of drying seeds in locations where they can't be disturbed by a critter or curious person(s).
    ===============

    I honestly can't remember if I've grown it, and if so it's been a while, or I had tasted it at a MAGTAG event, but I do remember Cherokee Purple being a very, very tasty tomato. For a while it seemed like it was leaving here in almost every SASE. When seeds are exhausted they must go off the list, and when they are packed and ready new ones go on--I took a few off the list this week and added about a dozen varieties, that's the way it goes.

  • brokenbar
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    As I am a baker and make a lot of pastry, I dry my seeds on waxpaper which I always have a roll of. They do not stick and dry fairly fast.

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yesterday I finished some webpages with the photos and text from the pdf.

  • colokid
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vsry nice Trudi. I especially like the icon.
    Kennyp

  • trudi_d
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I love cheesey clipart ;-)

  • cindeea
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    trudi, and everyone contributing here....this has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I printed up many responses as well as trudi's "how to". Thank you all for enlightening this tomato growing newbie-old broad...and Ted, thanks for the seeds...hope those I sent you are doing as well as those I got from you!

    I have saved seeds in the past only to find them stick horribly after many rinses using paper or foam plates and coffee filters. Going to try wax or parchment paper. I am going to try the abraision mix-lightly, with any successes from my winter crops. YUP, I am in SW Florida and just starting my winter seedlings! Again, thanks all, and trudi, cheesey clipart is the best!
    Be well and Happy!! Cindee

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