The benefit of gardening, for me, has many aspects. It’s somehow fundamentally rewarding to spend time working the soil, putting your energy into nurturing something, and watching it grow. After which you get to enjoy the benefits, and finally, putting it to rest until the cycle starts again. It’s very symbolic of life in general and allows me to re-align myself with the slower pace of nature, even if it’s ironically for only a few moments here and there.
Gardening also gives me great joy because I’m able to expose this process to my daughter, who finds amazement every time we go into the backyard and there’s more raspberries to pick, or that the grapes have started to turn purple, or the beans she saved and planted are growing, or that she has discovered, for herself, new cherry tomatoes to pick and gobble up. It teaches her the value and the patience it takes to invest in the important things in life.
My goal has also been to try and supply our home with as much fresh produce as possible to help curb our consumption of far away products, even if just a little. That means trying to grow enough garlic to get us through the winter,(which I’m hoping will happen this year), or jarring enough jam and tomato sauce to last the colder months and keep us away from BPA lined cans. (This last one we managed to do this past year which made me very happy.) The next step is to save our own seeds from the plants we grow. People have been putting selective pressure on plants for millennia by saving only the seeds from the hardiest, the biggest, and hopefully the tastiest fruit, so I’m happy to continue that process.
Tomato seeds are a bit different than other seeds. There is a gelatinous coating around them that deters them from germinating. If you just by pull them out of a tomato and leave them to dry, they may not sprout come planting time. A lot of seeds have adapted to sprout regardless, but tomato seeds still prefer to pass through an animals digestive track (which removes this coating), thus signalling to the seed that it can now germinate. We need to simulate this process to break down the coating.
Here’s how we do that:
Cut the tomato across the width of the fruit, exposing the seed pockets
Cover the jar or container with some paper towel and an elastic band so nothing gets into it. After a few days it’s going to look pretty gross. A moldy film is going to form over the seeds and pulp. What that does is break down the gelatinous coating on the seeds, which will allow them to germinate. It also produces antibiotics that help to control seed-borne diseases like bacterial spot, canker and speck.
Use a spoon to remove the mold…
Next, add some filtered water, allow the seeds to fall to the bottom, then decant the liquid off the top. Dead seeds and pulp will float to the top and be washed off. Repeat as necessary until only the clean healthy seeds remain.
Place them on a clean paper towel to dry, and once finished, store in a paper envelope or paper bag until planting time next year.
I save my tomato seeds like this and I’ve had a nearly 100% germination rate.