Now’s time to save your tomato seeds

Tomatoes ripening.
Tomatoes ripening.

Many gardeners would agree that their hobby rates highly on the satisfaction scale but is not necessarily the cheapest to follow.

Too often it seems that certain plants and sundries cost the earth, but that only serves to encourage a spirit of resourcefulness.

Saving seeds of favourite crops, flowers and vegetables is typical of this, and now is a good time to do it.

Showy ornamentals such as poppy, foxglove, aquilegia and sunflower are a popular choice.

Collect seeds that are ripe and dry, then pop them into a paper envelope and store in a cool, dry place until sowing.

The first three mentioned are so hardy and capable of self-propagating, that you can broadcast them immediately on the spot where a future display is desired.

Collecting seeds of home-grown vegetables is just as widespread.

As autumn approaches, I ensure that a few French, broad, runner and borlotto beans are left on the plants, until the pods are dry and shrinking around the seeds.

They are then shelled and stored in conditions identical to the flower seeds until next year.

Marrows and pumpkins will give up their seeds as and when they’re being prepared in the kitchen and you simply can’t ignore those at the heart of tomatoes.

A packet of Alicante tomato contains approximately 60 seeds and costs £1.85.

Gardener’s Delight holds 75 seeds and will set you back £2.25 – both Suttons.

These are two very popular varieties but most gardeners I know do not grow that many plants.

It makes sense, then, to save your own, especially as these two varieties are not F1 hybrids and therefore reproduce true from seed.

Friend Tony bought a plum-shaped cherry tomato at the local supermarket, liked the sweet tast and saved seed. He passed the surplus young plants on to his friends who have resolved to follow suit.

Lay a double layer of kitchen towel in a sunny window and pull the ripe fruit apart, spreading out the pulp.

Use forceps to tease out the seeds, dry off and store them until sowing time comes around.

Seeds of rugosa roses are extracted the same way but they are then sown into a pot containing gritty compost and put outside where the frost becomes a catalyst in the germination process.