March 31, 2023


Delighting home maniacs

GARDENER COLUMN: Techniques on saving seeds | Home & Garden

GARDENER COLUMN: Techniques on saving seeds | Home & Garden

For tomatoes, scoop out or squeeze the seeds and the surrounding gel sack into a small container. Don’t worry about trying to just get the seeds. Add water at a ratio of 1:1, example 1 cup seed mixture with 1 cup water, and place the container on a warm windowsill. The gelatinous sack around the seed will start to ferment in about one to three days and the tomato mixture will become covered in a white or gray mold. It can be smelly so keep that in mind when you select a warm location. Stop the fermentation process when the entire mixture is covered with scummy mold, about three days. If you leave it too long, the tomatoes will start to sprout. To stop the process, add water to double the mixture and stir vigorously. The good seeds will settle to the bottom and the mold and bad seeds will come to the top. Scoop off the mold, bad seeds, and other material. Repeat until the seeds are as clean as they can be. Pour the wet seeds out on a coffee filter and spread them out to dry. Try not overlap the seeds to help them dry quickly. If need be, stir them a couple times a day to help them dry quicker, it should only take a few days for them to completely dry. It’s important to dry tomato seeds quickly so they don’t germinate. Place them in an air-tight container and store them in a cool, dry location such as a spare refrigerator or basement.

Saving bush bean seeds uses a completely different technique. Start by leaving the beans on the plant to dry. In the case of my purple bush beans, I missed some when I was picking and are now too big to eat, so those are the ones I’m leaving to dry on the plant. Once the bean pods are crispy and dry, they can be broken open and dried. You can test their dryness by taking a few beans pods, open them and hit the shelled beans with a hammer. If they shatter, they are dry enough to store. Allow them to dry a little longer if the beans simply mash. You can shell them by hand if you have a small amount; it can be slow, but it does allow you to identify good quality beans. If you have a lot to do, consider putting them in a cloth bag and roll over the bag with a rolling pin. Another option is to hang the bag from a tree and whack it with baseball bat or stick. Be ready for neighbors to give you a few strange looks though. Freeze the dry beans in an airtight container as soon as they are ready for storage as beans are very susceptible to bean weevils. If you cannot get them separated from the pods right away, put them in an airtight container and freeze them for at least five days. When you take them out of the freezer, allow the container to come to room temperature before opening it to avoid condensation and causing the beans to be exposed to moisture. Refreeze the beans as soon as you’ve removed them from their pods in the airtight container.