Opt to retain your own tomato seeds instead of procuring new ones annually! Gain knowledge on the selection, collection, and preservation of tomato seeds to ensure the cultivation of excellent plants in the subsequent years.

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Engage with the appropriate tomato variety

It is not feasible to employ seeds from just any random tomato plant. It is imperative that you exclusively attempt to conserve seeds from non-hybrid varieties. Hybrids should be avoided, as they originate from the fusion of genetically distinct parent plants. Hybrid seeds are generally designated as such. For instance, the label "F1" is commonly found on seed packets containing hybrid vegetables and fruits.

Why steer clear of hybrids? The rationale is rather straightforward: if you sow these seeds, the outcomes will be unpredictable and frequently unsatisfactory. The resultant plants will bear fruits that possess an entirely haphazard appearance, flavor, and color—far from resembling the original mother plant.

With non-hybrid varieties, this predicament is averted: each tomato blossom will self-fertilize. Within each flower's stamens, pollen grains will descend to meet the pistil's tip, thereby effecting fertilization.

By adequately spacing different varieties apart during planting, the likelihood of cross-pollination can be minimized.

When is the optimal time for tomato seed harvesting?

Typically, tomatoes are ready for harvesting four to five months post-seeding. The duration is contingent upon the amount of sunlight received. Sunnier conditions lead to earlier harvests. According to your seeding schedule, you would commence indoor seed sowing around February-March. Subsequently, young seedlings are transplanted outdoors as early as mid-April, after the threat of frost has receded.

Consequently, tomatoes are primed for harvesting by the arrival of July. The harvesting period endures until October-November, varying based on the locale, with the first autumn frost usually serving as the cutoff.

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How to gather tomato seeds?

The key point is to ensure the fruit is fully ripe.

  • Halve the tomato using a knife, and extract the seeds along with the pulp.
  • Place the contents into a bowl of warm water.
  • Allow it to rest for 2-3 days.
  • Keep the bowl in direct sunlight: the warmth of the water facilitates the detachment of seeds from the attached pulp.
  • Employ a strainer to drain the water, while gently removing any residual bits of pulp in a circular motion.
  • Clean them with a cloth and dry the seeds in a dim, well-ventilated room.
  • Once they are dry, transfer the seeds to a well-sealing envelope or jar (airtight).

Storing tomato seeds

  • Store them in a dark, dry location.
  • Remember to record essential details: the variety name and harvest date. Tomato seeds can remain viable for up to six years.

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Sowing your own tomato seeds

 The exciting moment of sowing your seeds has finally arrived: the onset of spring! Retrieve your seeds from their storage spot on a shelf or in a drawer.

  • Fill a tray with a blend of soil mix and sand. Alternatively, you can acquire specialized "seedling potting mix" for seed sowing.
  • Sow your tomato seeds, leaving about an inch and a half (4cm) between each seed. A couple of seeds clustered together in the center are adequate for pots.
  • Water gently using a misting spray and maintain soil moisture until germination occurs.
  • Once sprouts bear 2-3 leaves, transplant each into its own nursery pot.
  • Transfer this nursery pot to the outdoor soil once the danger of frost has passed, typically around mid-May, depending on your geographical location.

All that remains is to nurture your growing tomato plants, and you will soon reap a bountiful 100% home-grown harvest!

August 10, 2023

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