Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January (1) Quick start: Save seeds from ripe organic tomatoes...


 Action 1 : Save Tomato Seeds (Quick start)

First, find some super-tasty organic, open pollinated tomatoes to kick off your seed saving journey - from a friend, a local organic farmer or farmer's market. Preferably a seldom variety, to support its maintenance and continuous improvement. 
Once you have found your seed tomatoes: Let them become really ripe to save their seeds.
Nearly over-ripe - soft, but still edible.
If they are truly organic, that should not take too long, some days at room temperature.

How-to cards are meant as "all-you-need summaries" for your actual saving process .

At the end of this post you find an additional abstract about "Organic or not ?" A discussion that reaches wider, but is relevant for seeds. Please take your time to read it, decide your path ( plus a  suggestion to label sources as clearly and openly as possible. ) 


Quick intro to seed saving: example tomato seeds

(text that is cut is focussed in a following image)

Tomato seeds are fermented, a special wet harvest treatment. 
Basically: set aside for some days before rinsing and drying to invite and host a beneficial fungus. 
Experts agree that you should do this for two vegetables: cucumbers and tomatoes for two reasons: 

1. It breaks down the germination inhibiting gel sack. 

2. It prevents some seed-borne diseases.

Quick tip: Margaret from "a way to garden" (see links below) describes that you can also dry enough single seeds without removing gel sacks - and probably sow more - and some fine plants will emerge. But you will miss the benefits mentioned above)  

They look beautiful - let's embrace the smelly part some days later, and decant...

Cucumber seeds can not be harvested from the green fruits we eat -  seed cucumbers need to be left on the vine far longer.

Funnily our statistical favorites are actually more cumbersome for saving their seeds than all others, where it is not smelly and just about some different cleaning procedures, and off to dry. 
But on the other hand....both tomatoes and cucumbers are very easy to grow....
And altogether, saving their seeds takes just some minutes. Just some more breaks in between.


..and: I wish you a joyful creative cooking experience and delicious meal 
from your deseeded tomatoes ! 



Articles, selected:

Inspired gardening:
awaytogarden: How to save seeds from heirloom tomatoes

Urban / small space gardening #seed saving:
VerticalVeg: How to save tomato seeds (includes video)

( select from playlist)

A necessary discussion:

Organic or not ??
For those who want to grow organic:

An honest word here: It might happen, that you buy vegetables which are labeled organic, but turn out to be: not organic.  

The further away we live from trusted farmers, the more saving seeds from ripe "organic" fruits can become a testing, trying, and experimentation field. Unless you know your source is 100% trustworthy and that the variety you choose is open pollinated, be prepared to be an explorer in the field of testing organic promises.  
You might find out that your organic tomatoes where grown from hybrid seeds, after growing them, because they don't carry a lot of beautiful fruits like the ones you saved from. 
This should be less probable if you choose heirloom varieties.
If you are in doubt about the quality of your organic food and the explorer in you is not excited by easy experiments to test-grow, eventually in parallel to growing organic varieties from surely organic and open pollinated seeds:  

It is better to invest in some packets of organic seeds from trusted sellers to start from, if there is no seed bank or seed library close to you yet.

If you can convince some friends & neighbours to grow the same varieties, it becomes really simple to maintain healthy populations: all of you save from your best fruits, then you just need to meet up, mix and share your saved seeds.

Your organic traders should ideally sell fruits grown from such seeds too, if they are truly organic -  and for very sure fruits free of any chemical treatments, be it to slow down the ripening process or inhibit germination. 

But generally, views differ strongly about chemical treatments and purity questions as to my "on-ground research" -  I personally want my seeds to be 100% organic. 

It seems appropriate that we all stick to one rule: 

Let us label very clearly and be honest about our sources. 
This helps altogether to save truly organic seeds separately from e.g. necessary compromise approaches.

Post has been updated in September 2014

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