I was picking tomatoes this morning when it occurred to me that part of my problem with seed saving is managing to remember which tomato is which. I planted nine varieties this year, and many of them are a lot alike — Perestroika and Grushovka, for example. And I tend to pick in a big basket, where they get mixed up.
So tomorrow, I have to pay more attention, because it’s time to start putting some seed aside for next year. This morning I did Galina, this yellow cherry that I love, and Mountain Princess, which gets mangled by the flea beetle but which is my most dependable early producer (yes, I realize it’s September, hardly anyone else’s definition of “early” but we had a cold summer this year).
Seed starting isn’t difficult but you have to be willing to put up with some uckiness. The seeds need to ferment, and mold, and get sort of disgusting in order to break down the gel packs in which the tomato encases them. My method is generally to squeeze out the seedy part into a jar, add enough water so they won’t dry up, and stick them in a corner until they start to do their business. For a good step by step guide to this process, check out this link.
Last year I saved my favorite, Jaunne Flammé and it was really fun this spring when instead of a few tiny seeds in the bottom of the package I had a whole honking bunch of them. And not only do I have enough seeds for several years, but I have seed from tomatoes that have already done well in my own yard, in our weird climate. I like the idea of saving seed across the years, and winding up with personalized seed that is uniquely adapted to my particular microclimate (now if I could only get them to grow out of the reach of chickens).
At any rate — it’s September, but I’ve finally got tomatoes, and zucchini, and even a few green beans. It’s been a very odd growing season this year, and because I was so busy early in the summer trying to save my job, I didn’t spend as much time out there as I’d have liked, so it’s all a little odd. But every summer is a new learning experience (like who knew that marigolds and calendula get so bushy? I didn’t — next year, space them further apart).