How to Save Tomato Seeds Without Giving up the Tomatoes



Roma tomatoes with stakes flagged by the best plants.  

I alternate processing tomato seeds and watermelon seeds, getting one batch of each done each week, from late July to the end of September. I keep my drying area in constant use: the day I pack away a batch of dried Roma paste tomato seeds is the day I wash and set to dry a batch of Crimson Sweet watermelon seeds. These are both the Virginia Select strains which I sell to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Each year since 2001, I’ve been selecting tomatoes for high yield, earliness, and resistance or tolerance to Septoria leaf spot disease. I use pink flagging tape on the T-posts to mark plants with large early yields and OK foliage, and yellow tape to mark plants that have healthier foliage and at least an OK early yield. By saving tomato seed for next year, you can keep heirloom and heritage tomato varieties alive, and over time, you can improve the variety to suit your region.

I wrote about saving tomato seeds and eating the tomatoes too on my blog at This year I decided to harvest tomato seeds on Thursdays and leave them to fully ripen until Tuesday (5 days), when I processed them for seed. I washed them and cut each tomato in half, dropping any rotten ones in a compost bucket, and putting the good halves in a clean bucket. I like a small serrated knife for this task.

Roma tomato shells seeds removed  

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