How to Harvest Tomato Seeds Now for Free Tomato Plants Later

It’s that time of year again when chilly autumn nights reign & the threat of frost starts to loom. I’m always a bit relieved when cooler temperatures arrive since that means I don’t have to water my garden as often. However, it also means that most of my plants will soon fade off into the sunset. Tomatoes & basil are usually the first of my plants to not survive cool nighttime temperatures. As of right now, all but one of my tomato plants have died off & my basil is kaput. I harvested all of the tomatoes that were still on the dead plants & brought them inside to ripen. Normally, this would be the end of my tomato gardening tasks, but since this is the year of seeds for me, I decided to save some seeds from this year’s tomatoes to grow next year. How did I do it? Keep on reading for my harvesting tomato seeds tutorial.

black brandywine tomato picture
Look at all of the seeds!

Materials

  • Tomatoes
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Paper towels

Method

  1. Cut tomatoes in half & scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the seeds in a bowl.
  2. Rinse the seeds with water a few times.
  3. Spoon out a few seeds at a time & place on a paper towel. Top with another paper towel & gently rub off the pulp by massaging the seeds between the two paper towels. Make sure to remove all of the pulp.
  4. Put dry tomato seeds on a new paper towel to dry completely. Set aside for a few days.
  5. Place seeds in an envelope. Label the envelope with the variety of tomato seeds & the date when you stored them. Store in a cool & dry place until they are ready to be planted in the spring.
harvesting san marzano tomato seeds picture
San Marzano seeds are over here looking like straight gold to me.

Tips

  • Choose seeds from healthy tomatoes. This gives you a better chance for healthy seeds.
  • Any leftover tomato pulp might make the seeds rot, so make sure to remove them completely.
sun sugar tomato seed harvesting picture
Teeny tiny Sun Sugar tomato with a knife for scale.

I was able to harvest seeds from a few of my Sun Sugar (these are my favorite tomatoes of all-time, check out my review), San Marzano & Black Brandywine tomatoes. I also still have a few Brandywine seeds left from this spring that I’ll try to plant again next year. Like I said in my latest Tomato Wars article where I compared starting tomato seeds four different ways, I didn’t have the best of luck growing tomatoes from seeds this year. But that’s not going to stop me from continuing to start tomatoes from seed. I am super excited to try to grow tomatoes from seeds that I saved myself. Growing plants from seeds that you saved yourself from previous plants just seems like straight-up magic to me. 

harvesting tomato seeds image
All of the tomato seeds that I harvested for the day.

Not having to buy a bunch of seeds or tomato plants is also a huge motivating factor for me in regard to seed-saving. Gardening can be such a pricey hobby, so I’m always on the lookout for budget-friendly ways to garden. My goal is to one day grow most of my veggies & annual flowers from seeds that I saved myself. I have had a lot of luck growing flowers from seeds this year, so I’ve been saving up a flower seed storm (check out my marigold seed saving article). Now, I don’t plan on growing entirely from saved seeds, because I know some new veggies & flowers will always catch my eye. But, it would be so nice to have the bulk of my seasonal gardening essentially be started for free. Nice for me & for my pocketbook.

water bath tomato seed picture
The seeds in their little water bath.

Well, what are you waiting for? Gardening season is quickly coming to a close & those tomatoes of yours aren’t going to keep on popping up for much longer. Harvest a few tomato seeds of your own & save them for next year. Future you will thank present day you! Happy gardening, everyone!

harvested tomato seed picture
I never thought that my chicken scratch hand writing would make an appearance on this website, yet here we are.

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