“Why should I prepare my own tomato seeds?” you might ask. Tomatoes are vegetables that are simply available everywhere, in every supermarket and during all seasons of the year. And even if somebody wants to grow his own tomatoes, there is a wide range of tomato seeds, already packaged and prepared.
Let’s talk about store-bought tomatoes first. Coming from Germany with its Central European Climate, we do not have extensive tomato cultivation in this country. The majority of tomatoes in our supermarkets has been imported from the Netherlands, Spain or other countries. In these countries either the climate is more suitable or they have huge greenhouse constructions. The selection offered is therefore very poor, often the taste is even poorer. If anybody of you followed the subject of agricultural developments on a global scale during the last couple of years, you might have noticed a couple of things. Multinational conglomerates are gaining more and more power, influencing local structures in agriculture and having impact on the number of varieties that can be cultivated. The fact that often only hybrid seeds are used in modern agriculture increases dependence of farmers worldwide.
Over the last years, people became more aware of these processes and weekly markets with all their variety are enjoying increasing popularity amongst users. People seem to think more about the circumstances that influence their food during the production process. More people buy organic products and growing your own food also appears to be a widespread phenomenon.
Therefore growing your own tomatoes has two huge benefits:
First, you can choose special varieties that are not offered in any store.
Secondly, no matter if you extract seeds from fruits or use packaged seeds, you can accompany the whole growing process of the plants. You can decide if you want to use any chemicals or if you prefer growing organic tomatoes.
Especially weekly markets often provide a wide range of agricultural products like fruits and vegetables. Small producers in particular often rely on old or rare varieties to occupy a small market niche and remain competitive. For me, it was always very frustrating to find some delicious tomatoes on a market but could not find the seeds for that particular variety anywhere. Especially when I traveled to countries like Italy where tomatoes are deep-rooted in local food, you can find varieties you’ve never seen before. To use the seeds of these fruits rectifies this problem. Another advantage is the fact that these rare varieties are – by contrast to the fruits from the supermarkets – normally not hybrids. The fruits of the plants evolving from these seeds possess the same characteristics as the tomatoes that were bought at the market.
To get the seeds out of the fruits is very easy. The preparation of seeds in order to keep them until sowing time only requires little effort.
It is important to use only ripe tomatoes to ensure that the seeds had the chance to grow properly.
1. Halve the tomatoes and use a knife to scratch out the seeds.
2. Catch the seeds in a small cup or drinking glass.
3. Add 1 tsp sugar per cup/glass and fill it with lukewarm water.
4. Allow to stand the mixture for 1-3 days, until the seeds float at the surface. Sometimes the surface of the water becomes a little bit foamy, too.
Attention: This process is highly dependent on the surrounding temperature. The warmer it is, the faster the result can be observed.
5. As soon as the desired state is achieved, pour the seeds through a small colander and rum with your fingers until the jelly-like surrounding of the seeds is gone. Rinse with water a couple of times in between to clean the remaining seeds.
6. Skip the seeds on a paper towel to dry. To avoid any confusion, I usually write the name of the tomato variety directly on that towel.
In case you are preparing more than one tomato- variety, it is important that you don’t mix up the different seeds. Otherwise it won’t be possible to differentiate them and any selective seeding in the next year is unmanageable.