Try Fermenting Tomato Seeds to Improve Seed Quality


Tomatoes all ready to grow – by Judith Cox

I cut tomatoes to open them, scooped out the seeds and put them in a jar with some water. This caused the seeds to ferment, which is supposed to improve the quality of the seed.

Greetings fellow gardeners,

Spring is making its soggy presence known in this little corner of the world. The snow is melting and leaving bumpy, uneven paths in my backyard that are really slowing me down. I need to concentrate as I take my cyborg knee out to the chicken coop. Grumble.

Starting Tomato Seeds

Today I am starting my tomato seeds. To me this is so exciting as it means that soon I will be out in the garden! Doesn’t it add sunshine to your whole existence? It does mine. I went in search of my carefully collected seeds and of course I couldn’t find them, as I had put them somewhere safe. After a period of panicking, I found them and began to process them. Next, I made the trip out to the potting shed to find containers and trays. A few things were knocked down but generally the creatures left most of the shed intact.

Fermenting Tomato Seeds

Last fall, I started an experiment. I decided to experiment with a slightly different way of storing tomato seeds that involved fermentation. I harvested a batch of tomatoes and saved the healthy, ripe ones. I sliced them open, scooped out the seeds, and placed them in a container with room temperature water. This initiates fermentation. Twist the jar once or twice a day. This enables the seeds to ferment more consistently, which is thought to improve seed quality. The fermenting process normally takes one to two days to thoroughly cover the seeds. At colder temperatures, fermentation will take longer. Remove the seeds from the jar and set them on paper towels in a cool, dry spot for the winter.

I saved another batch of seeds my usual way. I made a little map of the cells where I planted each type of seed and put the map somewhere safe (ha! ha!) I thought I would add it to the binder my mother had started. I have also started to put her notes in plastic sleeves so that they will be protected.  

Sowing Tomato Seeds

I have a large bag of potting soil and a small container of worm compost which I use to supplement the potting soil.  I filled all the little cells with soil and watered thoroughly. Always make sure to water the soil before you plant so the soil is ready to receive your seeds. I carefully followed my map and planted a little row of regular and a little row of fermented tomato seeds. Growing them side by side will give me an opportunity to observe and to decide if there are any differences.  This tray has a clear cover that I will put on top until I start to see growth. Just to be safe, I added some masking tape name tags to the front of the tray.  I stopped putting plant tags in with the tomatoes after one of my too-many cats, Kevin, pulled them all out and I had no clue which one was which. That is the year we had Kevin-tomatoes until they fruited and it became obvious which ones they were.

Research companion plants for tomatoes.

I am watching the wind play havoc with the cardboard I have ready to recycle. March is really going out with a roar. The sky is dark, but my heart is happy. Next week is supposed to be very spring-like. Enjoy your week. Judith. (Email:  Veggie Bites are available at or

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