The Dirt on Saving Tomato Seeds | 3 Easy ways

Last updated: 9/17/18

Take a poll of all your family and friends and ask what vegetable would they would grow.  You will probably hear growing tomatoes as one of the most popular vegetables growing choices.

It seems that most gardeners always brag about their tomatoes when asked about their progress of your their garden.

You might be one of those garden newbies who just planted the first tomato plant that you grabbed at the local hardware store or garden nursery.  Have you ever thought about actually growing tomatoes from seed?  It really is not too difficult to grow them from seed, so why not save the tomato seeds from one of your plants this year.

You have a few options on how you want to save tomato seeds.  All of these different ways to save tomato seeds are not too difficult to do.  In fact, one of the ways is so simple that it takes no effort on your part to do it.

The 3 ways are 1. Do nothing and let nature save them for you, 2. Put some more effort into it, to save the seeds, and the last option is to 3. Maximize your chances of saving the seeds for multiple years.

These tips can be applied to any type of tomatoes such as cherry, Roma, big beef, Brandywine and many more different tomato varieties.  Let’s get into the dirt of saving tomato seeds and saving them like a Green Thumb Gardener.

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Tomato Seed Saving Benefits

Ever see a BLT sandwich where you see this draped over the side, almost blood red thick tomato.

You might get on your phone and google, “Best tomato plant ever”.

You check the search and notice that there is an endless supply of tomato varieties.  You quickly realize this is going to take some time finding the perfect one.  Is it worth it?

Let’s find out some reasons on why saving tomato seeds will help you craft the perfect BLT sandwich.

  • An endless variety of tomatoes – There are over 10,00 tomato cultivars if you can believe that.  There are probably way more than that if you also count the cross-pollinated tomato plant varieties.  You may find that you are challenged to build your tomato seed catalog.  Well, you will have a diverse bounty of tomato varieties to choose from.
  • Starting from Seed can be expensive – Tomato seed packets prices range anywhere from $1-$7.95 depending on the number of seeds you want.
    You might be a bold gardener and want to grow 7 different varieties in your garden each year and cycle through the types.  Well, saving seeds each season will help defray the cost every year.
    You can even trade seeds for free if you really want to really build a collection and save more money.
saving tomato seeds

  • Adapted to your garden – You know the old saying, “Only the strong will survive”.  Selecting the best plants and tomatoes from your actual garden will ensure that you get the best and healthiest plants.  These tomatoes thrived in your mini ecosystem, so their offspring should also perform the same or better as nature’s woven secret is to adapt, survive, and thrive

What About Supermarket Tomato Seeds?

You might be tempted after reading this to go out and save some tomato seeds from one of the supermarket tomatoes.  In fact, it is encouraged to try some of tomato seed saving methods with one of your glorious supermarket tomatoes.

You need to understand that these types of tomatoes may not cultivate into healthy tomato producing plants next year if grown from seed.  Trust me, I have tried experiments of this, so I want to save you the trouble and disappointment.

The plants start out great and look like every other healthy tomato plant.  You quickly realize no tomato flowers are forming that after months of watering them and feeding them.

You need to stick with certain types of tomatoes to ensure you get what you want.  It is not recommended using any from the supermarket to start this even if it is organic.  Commercially grown tomatoes are usually not one the tastiest tomatoes.

They are grown to be transported and usually picked when they are just a shade of color to allow them to ripen later.  Your more high-end supermarkets and farmers market may have the right type of tomato you need, but why chance it.

Get any of these types of tomato plants or seeds below to plant in your garden to ensure you will have success growing tomatoes from seeds.

  1. Heirloom tomatoes–  Wikipedia defines them  as an “..old cultivar of a plant used for food that is grown and maintained by gardeners and farmers, particularly in isolated or ethnic minority communities of the Western world.”  These plants may have been passed down from generation to generation.  Maybe you can pass these on to your children someday.  Wouldn’t that be a cool story?
  2. Open-pollinated tomatoes – plants that are pollinated with the same variety -either by itself or another plant.  Roughly, these tomato plants stay the same and have the same characteristics through each planting.

Take note that heirloom tomato plants are always open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are an heirloom.  Say that 3 times fast.

Check out this bundle of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds here.

Tomato Seed Saving Tactic#1

Let nature take its course and leave the tomato plants to reproduce on its own.  – This has got to be the easiest & laziest method of them all.

There are so many different tasks that you need to do in the fall time and it is starting to get cold and maybe rainy out.

There is nothing wrong with just leaving a few tomatoes out there and see what happens next year.

We all have a few tomatoes that never make it to the plate and escape our gripe.

This tomato seed technique is for:

  • Lazy gardener– no shame in just letting things will they fall, let nature take over saving your tomato seeds.
  • Busy gardener– you might have a huge garden and there are so many other tasks you need to do other than saving that one variety of plant.
saving seeds of tomato

Tomato Seed Saving Tactic #2

Cut your tomatoes open and just scoop out the seeds.  Let them dry out and save them as they are. 

You can try this method as it is just a step up from the first one.

We have grown a few plants like this and they do just fine despite what garden experts say.  The only caveat to this is they can spoil, they smell, and only last maybe a year or so.

You might want to use this option only if you plant them next year and have a ton of them.

This tomato seed technique is for:

  • Part time gardener– You love growing tomatoes, but ain’t got time to follow thru.  Scoop, dry, and save the tomato seeds.
  • Short-term gardener – You know that you will grow this same tomato plant next year because you loved it so much

Tomato Seed Saving Tactic #3

Cut your tomatoes open, scoop out the seeds, ferment them, rinse and dry them. Boom, you are done.  This way really only has one more step which is to let the tomato seeds ferment for a few days.

You basically just scoop them out and put into a jar, add a little bit of water and let them sit around for a few days until they smell pretty sour.

The reason that you take this extra step is that the tomato is encased in a gelatinous sack.  This gel inhibits the seed germination.  This process also has the added benefit of killing many tomato diseases.  This extra step will also allow you to save your seeds for many years if stored properly.

This tomato seed technique is for:

  • Full-time gardener– You garden like a boss and certainly have your green thumb.  You have patience and love to save your tomato seeds every year.  You probably have a fairly large collection of seeds
  • Prepper – You garden like your life depended on it.  Nothing goes to waste and you save as much as you can because it is just insurance needed for survival.

As you can see, it could not be any simpler saving tomato seeds with any of these tactics.  The most important tactic is just the one you do to get saving seeds.

Here are some other tips here to help you save seeds

Let us know in the comments below what type of gardener you are.

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Green Thumb Gardener
the dirt on saving tomato seeds
Jeremy Starke

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