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My Adventures in Tomato Seed Saving

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!