You don’t need to buy seed packets next spring if you can get your hands on the fresh ripe fruit or vegetables you desire.
Find plants grown in a local garden or farmer’s market rather than from the store. This way you can be certain the plant has been treated in a way that renders the seeds useless.
Only save the seeds from ripe healthy plants that showed no sign of disease as the disease can be carried through to the next crop.
Saving Tomato Seeds by Fermenting Them First
It’s important to ferment the seeds of a tomato as this fermentation process will dissolve the gel around the seed and kill off any bacteria that will infect the plant with disease.
1. Squeeze a ripe tomato to release the juice and seeds into a glass jar.
2. Add about half the amount of water that there is of juice and seed mixture in the jar.
3. Use a labelled paper towel, plastic wrap with poked holes, or coffee filter with a rubber band as a lid. Labelling the jar is important as tomato seeds are difficult to tell apart.
4. Let the seeds sit in the water and juice mixture until mold grows on top indicating fermenting. This should take a few days, but could happen sooner if it’s warm or in the sun so you need to monitor it. As soon as it’s covered in mold the seeds are ready.
5. Get the viable fermented seeds by scooping out the mold with a spoon then adding new water to almost fill the jar. Stir the water and let the seeds settle. The bad seeds and pulp will float to the top so remove them with the spoon. Repeat the process until the mold and all the floating seeds and pulp have been removed. The good seeds will be settled at the bottom of the jar.
6. Rinse the good seeds with lukewarm water in a sieve with holes that are smaller than the seeds.
7. Spread the rinsed seeds on a glass plate. Notice the gel coating will have dissolved in the fermentation process.
8. The seeds need to be dried immediately, use a fan to speed the process. Do this away from direct sunlight.
9. Once the seeds are totally dried, store them in a labelled plastic sandwich bag or envelope in a cool dark place.
Plant your tomato seeds inside in early March. Use a peat moss pellet. Let it grow until the sprout has it’s second set of leaves, then move the plant into a bigger pot so the roots can spread out for a big healthy plant.
Saving Seeds of Cucumber, Peppers, Cantaloupe, Beans, and Peas
Saving the seeds of these plants is not as complicated and time consuming as fermenting tomato seeds.
To save pepper, cucumber, and cantaloupe seeds let them get very ripe then cut them open and take out the seeds. Rinse the seeds clean using lukewarm water in a sieve, gently dry them with a paper towel, and let them sit on a plate to dry. A fan will help speed the process. Once dry, store them in a cool dry place.
To save beans or peas leave the vegetable on the vine or plant to turn brown and dry up. Jiggle the pod to check if it’s ready. When you hear the seeds rattling around in the pod you can remove the seeds from the pod and store them in a cool dry place.