Q. How do I save tomato seeds properly?
Some seeds such as tomato seeds are contained in a natural, gel-like substance. To remove the seeds from the gel, place the seeds and gel in a jar of water. Stir the mixture a few times a day until it ferments. Once the gel ferments, the seeds should drop to the bottom of the jar. Then the liquid can be poured off and the seeds collected for drying. To dry the seeds, spread them out on newspapers and place in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location for about one week. After the seeds have dried, remove any remaining pulp.
Next, place equal weights of silica gel (a moisture-absorbing material available from most craft shops) and seed into a paper envelope. Some sources suggest using powdered milk instead of silica gel. Place the envelope into a clean dry glass jar, which contains a lid capable of making a tight seal. Do not use paper or cardboard containers, as they will be vulnerable to moisture as well as more susceptible to insect or rodent damage. Small-sized seeds should remain inside the jar for 7-11 days and large sized seeds for 11-15 days. The next step is to remove all of the silica gel from the envelope. Then place the envelope containing the seeds back into the glass jar. Replace the lid and seal it tightly.
Store the jar containing the seeds until planting time in a location with a low temperature, 32°F-41°F, and low humidity.
Cornell University's cooperative extension service offers further information on saving vegetable seeds.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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