Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Starting Tomatoes from Seed

Several days ago, I decided to start another Black Prince tomato plant from seed and use it to replace my last and very poor looking Better Boy. I'm doing this because the Better Boy appears to be losing ground rapidly, while the Black Prince continues to thrive and put on fruit. Hopefully, the time it takes the Siberian heirloom's seeds to grow into transplantable seedlings will give the few (3) small tomatoes on the Better Boy a chance to ripen. That is, of course, assuming that the plant survives that long.

So, earlier this morning I planted several seeds that I harvested from a Black Prince tomato about a week ago. It is pretty simple to harvest seeds from tomatoes. Only try it with heirlooms, however, as any plant you get from a hybrid tomato may differ greatly from the plant that produced the seed. I used the following method:
Allow one a plant that you like to fully ripen, pick it, and cut it in half. Then scoop out the seeds with a spoon, knife, finger, or whatever you have. Now, dump this gooey mess into a cup, add a little water, and cover with the top with some wrap with a few holes punched in it. You'll want to remove the cover about once a day and stir the seeds. Soaking/fermenting in water helps remove the gelatinous coating from the seeds and some claim that it rids the seeds of any diseases that might be present. After the seeds soak for a few days, the top of the water will look pretty scummy. This is a good thing, as it lets you know the fermentation is taking place. Now remove the seeds, rinse them off, and spread them out one by one on a paper towel. Place the paper towel in an out of the way place and allow the seeds to dry for several more days (3 or 4 should do it). Once dry, they are ready to store or plant.

When the plants sprout, I'll thin them down over the course of several weeks to the strongest one and use it to replace the Better Boy.


Jennifer said...

Good luck with the new tomato, and thanks for the instructions on how to get seeds from the fruit itself. I wanted to start some seeds from fresh produce, but wasn't entirely sure how to do it.

Hope those Better Boys ripen before the plants sees its last day. We got a Better Boy start from the farmer's market and it's not doing very well. So far, the Roma tomato is the only one really taking off. We've got three or four small fruits on it!

plantgirl said...

Thanks for the instructions - looks easier to save seeds than I thought it would be :)

Annie said...

Hey thanks for the seed tips. So do you know how well these seedlings will do during the summer? I started late with a few of my tomato plants because that massive heat wave that hit in early may killed a lot of my others. I don't have any fruit yet on any of my tomato plants...will they eventually come on, or do you think it is getting too hot?? I am so obsessed with my little plants, and I just want some tomatoes:)

John said...

Thanks for the comments Jennifer, Plantgirl, and Annie. Annie, I really don't know if they will survive the heat. I'll try to harden them off by taking them out progressively longer each day. As for yours, even if they don't put on fruit in the heat of Summer, they should in the Fall. Last year I was late putting out some cherry tomatoes. They didn't bear at all over the hot months, but really came on strong in the Fall. Good luck with them.