The people who know me best know that I can be a little, well…. scatterbrained. Not all the time. Just when I’m awake.
Anyway, when I first started saving tomato seeds, I had a few instances in which I squeezed out tomato seeds into containers, covered them with water, and walked away, confident in my spectacular recall capabilities to remember which varieties were saved in what container. “Oh, the ‘Brandywine’ seeds are in the old potato salad container. How hard is that to remember?” I’d laugh to myself. Only to come back two days later wondering who put all of those tomato seeds there.
Since then, I’ve come up with a few ways of making sure I remember what I’m saving. I’ve put Post-It notes on my containers, but they’d fall off. I wrote in permanent marker on the containers I fermented my seeds in, but since I reused them over and over again, they’d have several different tomato names on them, and if I forgot to cross one off, confusion ensued. Last year, I started using some of the dozens of canning jars I have around here to ferment my seeds in, and wrote the variety name on the jar in dry-erase marker. It looked much nicer than my old potato salad containers, so that was an improvement. The problem was that I always managed to rub the dry-erase marker off somehow before the seeds were finished fermenting, and I’d be left with yet another batch of mystery seeds.
But this year, I have done it. I’ve devised the perfect seed fermenting system for me. Here it is:
1. Place seeds/pulp in canning jar, and cover with a few inches of water.
2. Write the variety name on a coffee filter, and use the ring from the jar to hold it securely on the jar. This does double-duty by clearly and effectively labeling the seeds and keeping fruit flies out of the jar.
3. Allow seeds to ferment until mold forms, 3 to 5 days, usually.
4. Remove coffee filter lid and set aside. Don’t throw it away!
5. Rinse seeds well in a strainer, and dump them out on the coffee filter you used to cover the jar. It’s already labeled with the variety for you, and will wick water away from the seeds quickly.
6. Let the seeds dry, then put them in an envelope and stick them in the fridge.
If you only save from a variety or two, this might not be such a big deal for you, but I grew twelve varieties this year (and usually grow even more than that), and saved seeds from almost all of them. There were times when I had four or five jars of seeds going at a time — a recipe for a seed-saving mess if I’d been disorganized about it. This system works well for me, and I’ll probably save seeds this way from now on.
Do you have any tricks for keeping track of your tomato seeds?