Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Old-Fashioned Tomatoes Can Be Grown from Seed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Old-Fashioned Tomatoes Can Be Grown from Seed

Article excerpt

Saving seeds multiplies the already considerable pleasure of growing tomatoes.

It's not a big money-saver (a packet of tomato seeds is cheap), but neither is growing your own tomatoes when you factor in all of the paraphernalia required versus the cost of a bushel of ripe tomatoes at the farmer's market in August. That's not the point.

All tomato seeds can be saved, but it doesn't make sense to collect seeds from hybrid varieties.

With hybrids, the fruits you see on the vine are not necessarily what you'll get next year. (The odds are 50-50 from the first year's batch of saved seeds, but drop considerably thereafter.)

Trouble is, there's no way to tell until the tomatoes ripen whether you've grown a winner or a dud. So, if your favorite tomato is a hybrid, buy a fresh packet of seed each season.

The best tomato seeds to save are those from open-pollenated varieties. Unlike hybrids, these old-fashioned tomatoes are very stable and will almost always come true from seed.

In addition, by picking this kind of tomato, the gardener will be performing horticulture a service by preserving an heirloom variety and its special characteristics.

Here's how to save tomato seeds for next year's crop:

Identify one or two fruits of each variety to be saved (one tomato yields plenty of seed for a standard home garden). Select only the most perfect specimens of each type: the largest, shapeliest fruits from the healthiest plants. Mark each with a piece of string tied loosely around this stem.

Allow the tomatoes to ripen fully on the vine to make sure the seeds reach maturity.

When the tomatoes get very soft (riper than you'd normally harvest them), pick the fruits, but don't wash them. Keep different varieties separate.

Over a bowl in the kitchen, cut each tomato in half and scoop out the seeds along with the gelatinous pulp that surrounds them. …

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