Learn my very simple method for saving tomato seeds for next year that will save you money, time, and the best tomatoes for your location!
If you have not yet been saving tomato seeds you will be surprised to learn how easy and simple it is!
In fact, you may end never having to or wanting to buy tomato seeds (or small plants).
I have been successfully saving tomato seed with this method for years. This year, I planted them in my raised garden beds. My only disclaimer is that I have only done this with heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. I have not tried it with hybrid tomatoes. If you decided do experiment with the latter, I’d love to hear from you and if you had any success!
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Why save tomato seeds?
With so many excellent seed companies and local nurseries, you may be wondering why you’d want to go through the trouble of saving tomato seeds.
For one, it will obviously save you money. Now granted, growing anything from seed is much more economical than buying already established plants. But over time, it can really add up.
Next, it simply is fun! It fills me with so much satisfaction to know that I can not only grow from seed but from the seeds that I had harvested, dried, and collected. And the method couldn’t be easier or simpler. That’s always a big plus in our home!
But most importantly, you will get the best tomatoes for your location. Let me explain:
The tomatoes that will be growing in your garden, on your deck, in the pot on your front steps (or wherever you grow them) will have adapted to your location and climate. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing well. This is called natural selection.
Now, if you take one such tomato you are selecting for those qualities. If you are saving seeds from those tomatoes, they will be growing well in your specific area and growing conditions. How cool is that?
What you need to save tomato seeds:
You will need a tomato. If you have more than one variety growing in your garden, you may want to save seeds from the ones that grow best – and that YOU like the best.
I have been saving seeds from 2 different varieties of tomatoes for years and this year, I added one more.
Then you will need kitchen paper towels, a small cutting board, and a sharp knife.
If you’d like to make little seed packets, make sure to read this post all the way to the end as I will show you how to make those sachets.
The seed-saving method:
Cut a sheet of kitchen paper towel in smaller sections.
Carefully cut your tomato in half, or if it’s a very big one, in quarters.
With your knife or a small spoon, scoop out as many tomato seeds as you can. Place them on the paper towel pieces. Don’t worry if you end up getting tomato flesh on the paper towel. It doesn’t hurt anything but it doesn’t add anything. You can also gently scrape the tomato flesh off the paper towel.
You always want to save a lot more seeds than you think you need. First of all, they are free. But also, some seeds won’t sprout. It’s better to have too many seedlings than not having enough, just in case something happens to them.
Once you have scooped out the seeds of all the tomatoes you want to save seeds from, it’s a good idea to carefully write the name of the variety on the paper towel. I do that with a ball-point pen. If you like surprises, you may omit this step 😉
The paper towels will absorb some of the tomato juice and be wet. Therefore, you need to dry them. I do that in a warm, sunny kitchen window sill. Any warm and dry spot will work. You also place the paper towels in a dehydrator or in a warm (not hot!!) oven.
Make sure that the paper towels are bone-dry again before you continue on.
How to make seed packets:
I like to cut a letter size piece of paper in half. You can use any paper or newspaper you have. Also, you can be creative with the size.
Placing it in front of you horizontally, fold the paper in thirds. With some scotch tape, tape one of the open sides shut.
At this point, I like to write the tomato variety on the seed packet.
Once the paper towels with the seeds on them have become very dry, you can place them inside the seed packets. You may have to fold them to make them fit.
Now I like to fold over the top side of the packet and tape it shut. Again, feel free to be creative here. The only goal is to make sure that nothing can fall out.
Simple method to sow the tomato seeds:
With the seeds all dry and in their packets, they will last for a few years.
What I like about this particular method is the simplicity in sowing the seeds.
Whenever I am ready to grow the tomato seeds, I place the paper towel on the soil and cover it lightly with more soil. Keeping the soil moist and in a warm, sunny spot I grow these as I would grow any other seed.
You see, this is so easy! You can continue doing this every year and continually grow, save seeds, and re-grow. What a nice cycle!