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My Adventures in Tomato Seed Saving

10/28/2009
From my garden ~ Peacevine Cherry Tomato ~ an heirloom variety known for it's calming effect.

I have a passion for growing heirloom seeds. If you are wondering what is so special about heirloom seeds, I will tell you that they are not just special because they are handed down from generation to generation (although that is really cool) and they are not just special because they are selectively the best seeds from the best plants (that is cool, too). They are special because you can save the seed from the produce you grow, plant them again the next year and grow produce that is true to type (just like the parent plant). By saving seeds from the produce you grow, you can save money and grow your own food year after year.

If you know me, you know that I follow the whole bible, and take all of the Father's precepts to heart. I love his law and how it was written to teach us how we should live a pleasing life to Him. One of His statues (Leviticus 19:19) says that we should not sow our fields with mingled seed. Another translation says, mixed seed and yet another says two kinds of seed. The word in Hebrew is kilayim and means two kinds ~ mingled seeds.

I wondered for a couple years what that meant. Someone first told me that I could not plant a regular garden (two types of seed in one plot of land). I wasn't sure that is what it meant, but I grew a container garden instead. Then I turned to the Father and asked Him what he meant by that. (Good person to go to, huh?) Then I happened upon the book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, by Suzanne Ashworth. She details how to grow seed so that the seed is genetically pure.

I read this book and a little light bulb went off in my head.

I knew about GMO (genetically modified organisms) thanks to the movie The Future of Food(a great movie if you want to learn about the devastating effects GMO foods will have on the future of our food supply). And something began to make sense to me.

Perhaps, the Father meant preserve what He created and only sow pure seed ~ seed that was not mingled or a product of two kinds of seeds. I may be on to something, but I know one thing is certain ~ He will keep showing me until I figure it out. But did you know we are losing His creation? We are losing the genetic diversity of his wonderful creation. We are losing varieties of fruit and veggies that were once known and common. I read somewhere that there used to be over 1500 varieties of potatoes. I can only name a few. Did you know there is such a thing as an All Blue potato or a Purple Peruvian? If you are interested in reading more, I recommend Seed Savers Exchange: Saving Heirlooms.

Following the techniques in the book, Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, I grew and saved the seed from my first tomato plants ~ the Peacevine Cherry Tomato. I mentioned above that it is known for having a calming effect and this is due to the high amino acid content of tryptophan in the tomato. I didn't know that until just now. But, I am so happy that is what I grew because I love them. They are so full of flavor for being so small and are perfect in salads. They also have "the highest Vitamin C content in a cherry tomato among 30 varieties analyzed by Rutgers University," according to Seeds of Change.

First, I selected the best tomatoes (the earliest, most colorful and healthiest looking ones).


I cut the tomatoes open and squeezed all the seeds into a glass jar. I covered them with a paper towel and let them ferment. Tomato seeds are covered in a gelatinous material that is broken down during fermentation. In nature this occurs naturally when the tomato rots and falls to the ground.

Fermenting the seed

After it was good and moldy (don't wait too long, I forgot about them), I rinsed them well and let them dry on a paper plate.

Washing the seed


Drying the seed

I planted a few seeds to see if they will germinate. (No sense in waiting to find out).

My indoor tomato garden


They were doing so well that I was not about to let them freeze in an early Wyoming winter. So, I transplanted them into hanging containers. Some did not make it due to the shock (apparently tomatoes do not transplant well), but the ones that made it are so pretty in my dining room and have continued to produce for over a month now since I brought them in.


Are you wondering how they will be pollinated? I wondered too. Tomatoes are self pollinating. You can help them along by vibrating the stems near the flower heads (the back of an electric toothbrush works well). But, so far mine have not produced new flowers.

So, there you have it. My adventure in not only tomato seed saving, but also how I came to be passionate about heirloom seed saving. Next time you are buying seeds for your garden, go heirloom!

12 comments:

Kathy said...

What a fascinating post, Michelle. I'll be passing this along to a gardening friend of mine who also blogs. I have to confess my heart almost aches to see what we miss out on living a city life. I know I could have a container garden here, so perhaps we should try. Blessings and grace, and a fruitful vine! : ) I love tomatoes.

Susan said...

Came over from Kathy's to read this informative post. Thank you so much for all your information and time in posting it for us. It's a little late for us this season but I copied and printed it out and we will definitely be doing this next year. In fact, next spring we are ONLY going to be buying heirloom plants and seeds.

I've been doing a lot of studying of the O.T. and this type thing. Everything is in THE BOOK if we will only use it and learn all the little lost details.

Thanks again,
Susan

Andi said...

Wonderful Post Chel! It doesn't take long for them to mold...lol. I love using heirloom seeds and learning about seed saving....thank you!

Sandra said...

I too came over from Kathy's post to read about seeds.

We read a book called 'Enmity Between the Seeds' by Bill Cloud a few months ago in Bible Study. We got into a good discussion about heirloom seeds and hybrid seeds and I was curious to see what you knew.

I agree that we should be saving our seeds. India is one country that I know of that has to buy their seeds from the government and they are all hybrid. They have to pay a lot of money for them.

Thanks for this post. I'll be checking out some of your information for future use.

Jennifer said...

Wow! Thank you for not only posting the "how to" of heirloom seed saving, but also, "the why". I have been debating growing heirlooms, but now I have decided that it is a must.

The Brown Family said...

That is the best explaination I've EVER heard of that verse - wow. Way to go Chel!

Maybe some of your gardening kow-how will rub off...when you come visit! :-) (j/k - love hearing baout your homesteading!)

Michelle said...

Susan said:

"Everything is in THE BOOK if we will only use it and learn all the little lost details."

Very well said, Susan!

Sandra said:

"I agree that we should be saving our seeds. India is one country that I know of that has to buy their seeds from the government and they are all hybrid. They have to pay a lot of money for them."

This is one way to control the food - if you can control the food . . . you can control the people.

The countries that refuse gov't gmo seeds are smart - they know gmo will devastate their economy and make them reliant on gmo foods.

Mary Lee said...

I also wandered over from Kathy's blog. Very informative ..I am going to check into heirloom seeds. Thanks!

Miss Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing about how to save the tomato seeds. We do garden and I have wanted to save some of the seeds so this is very helpful.

I was also wondering if maybe you could vote for me in the Homeschool Blog awards this year? You can do so here – http://hsbapost.com/best-homemaking-or-recipes-blog-2009/

thanks and many blessings!

Caroline said...

Hi - I am fairly sure that tomatoes are NOT self-pollinating. My in-laws grow tomatoes as a business - 3 acres under glass! They have bees that they buy to pollinate the plants. The alternative is using a brush as you mentioned. HTH in your tomato journey!

Michelle said...

Tomatoes are self-fertile but bees usually assist in pollination by vibrating the flowers. Greenhouse growers sometimes use an electric toothbrush or similar device to vibrate the flowers. You can also shake the flowers gently to mimic a bumblebee.

Thanks for stopping by, Caroline!

Karen said...

Thank you so much for this...I love to garden and believe heirloom seeds are the way to go. I plan to start saving seeds with next years garden. Happy and healthy eating. Karen
Sippy Cup Central Mom

ps: I just posted about challah and I think we are in love with the same recipe.

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