Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Saving Heirloom tomato seeds
This past weekend we saw so many heirloom tomatoes on sale. I think you can find heirlooms almost anywhere these days. We bought one of the large, yellow tomatoes called Mr. Stripey, a beefsteak tomato that is primarily yellow with red stripes on the end. It is a low acid tomato and we liked this tomato so much that we bought one to save the seed for next year.
Saving seeds from a vegetable or flower plant is usually very simple. I sliced the tomato and then picked out the seeds. The tomato, I saved for later. No need to waste a perfectly good tomato! The seeds are put in a wire strainer and then washed with a slow stream underneath the faucet. I don't think you really need to wash the seeds off but, I do because my father always did.
I then pour the seeds onto a paper towel and spread them out to air dry.
Above is how they look after drying overnight. I might let them dry another day or so to make sure the moisture is gone and I will then scrape them off the paper towel and save them in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place, or the refrigerator, marked with the name of the seed. I will then get them out and plant the seeds around January or February. That is it. Much cheaper than a package of seeds and I don't usually see this variety.
I also dried some Cherokee Purple seeds. An old variety grown by the Cherokee Indians, according to what I have read.
I have generally heard it is best save only heirloom seeds, but recently I read that while it is the best practice to follow for most vegetables, tomatoes might be an exception to that rule. You could save seeds from any variety and it might be a bit different from the original, especially if it is from a hybrid tomato, but the fruit might not be that different. If you really like the tomato, it might be worth a try. You may get something really different, of course, so I would recommend it only as a test, but I am thinking about trying it.
Heirloom seeds can vary a bit, too. Pollination plays a big part in what next year's crop will be. It might be a good idea, if you want your seed to remain true to the original, to place them in a spot far away from other tomatoes.
Since I am often a little too optimistic, I am hoping for a great new variety I will like even more.
Another thing to consider -- seeds that flourish in one planting zone, don't always flourish in a different one. I will have to wait until next year to see how Mr. Stripey's do in this area, rather than the mountains, but I love large, yellow meaty tomatoes so this could be great for me.