Friday, September 17, 2010

Itty-Bitty Tomatoes and How to Save Seeds



A volunteer is the term for a plant that grows in your garden from some renegade seed that you never intentionally planted.

This year a miniature tomato plant came up in a corner of my garden, and, like some stray puppy, I decided to keep it. It was just too cute!

The tomatoes it is producing are even cuter. Just look at them compared to the cherry tomato in the above photo. Although they require more picking labor per calorie, I think they could be really interesting in a fancy salad or antipasto platter. Couldn't you picture them as a "tomato berry" on a plate at Woodberry kitchen?

I am saving some seeds to see if I can grow similar plants next year. Saving seeds is another one of the DIY project that sounds impressive but is relatively simple.



Squeeze the seeds and surrounding goop into a glass, cover with a paper towel, and place in a warm location (60-70 degrees) for about three days. Stir once a day.

A layer of fungus will form on top of the liquid in the jar. This is good! The fungus breaks down the gel surrounding each seed, and also helps fight against seed-borne diseases.

After three days, fill the container with warm water. The fruit flesh and immature seeds will float. Mature seeds will sink. Pour off the flesh and immature seeds. Repeat the process until the water being poured out is almost clear and the seeds at the bottom are clean.

Pour the water through a strainer, then dump the seeds out onto a paper towel. Let dry for a day or two. When the seeds are dry, bag and label them. Store in a cool, dark, dry area.

Special thanks to the International Seed Saving Institute for their instructions.

Actually, I went through the seed saving steps from memory and accidentally added water during the first step when I wasn't supposed to. Oops. I wonder if the fungus will form on top?

Luckily there are more tomatoes on the vine and I can try again.

Also, I don't know if these tomatoes will "come true," or turn out like the parent plant. The tiny tomato plant was growing right next to some Rutgers tomato plants and an anonymous plant I received from a friend, so it's possible that the genes got mixed through pollination.

It will be an exciting mystery next year as I wait for these seeds to sprout!

1 comment:

bittersweetblog said...

Eek, such adorable tiny tomatoes! I'm growing some that size too, but mine are meant to be minuscule- They're call "currant tomatoes", like the little dried currants you might find in scones and such. I does take a lot of effort to pick them (and find them under those giant leaves!) but they're so sweet and adorable in salads, I definitely want to grow more next year.

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