Landscape Logic: Here’s how to grow the best tomatoes in next year’s garden
We can’t wait to eat that very first ripe tomato that comes off the vine. It’s tough to resist the urge to enjoy it in a salad or BLT. But saving the seeds from your first tomato of the season can benefit next year’s tomato harvest.
Genes are passed down through the seeds. If you grow heirloom tomatoes and save those seeds, you will pass down the heirloom qualities of this year’s harvest, and using the early-ripener will help grow more of the same next year. So invest in next year’s garden and eat the second ripe tomato!
You might not get the same results with hybrid tomato seeds that you get with heirlooms. Hybrids cannot guarantee traits from this season to next season’s seeds because they carry many different traits. But they can carry over the early ripening gene — so whether you have heirloom or hybrid plants, you can still harvest the seeds for an earlier ripening time in next year’s garden.
To harvest those first seeds:
Slice through the equator of the tomato. Remove seeds and as much gel surrounding them as you can. That gel will ferment and remove the hormone that prevents germination.
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Use the back of a spoon to separate the mass of seeds, cover seeds with 1-2 inches of water and put plastic wrap over the top with a slit in it. Store in a warm place a for couple days. Wait for scum to form on top of the water.
Remove and dispose of floating seeds. Empty good seeds into a sieve and wash with water.
Dry seeds on a plate for about three weeks.
Store dried seeds in a paper packet until you are ready to plant next summer’s tomatoes.