Ask Gardenerd: Saving Tomato Seeds and Blight

A question came in to Ask Gardenerd from Jeff Bremer this week: “This is a two-part question: 1. I save seeds from each year’s tomato crop to plant the following year. I can never get all the “meat” of the tomato off the seeds. How do you clean these seeds? 2. Can early blight be transmitted through tomato seeds? Thanks, Jeff “

Great questions, Jeff. Let’s start with saving tomato seeds.

Saving Tomato Seeds

Saving tomato seeds is relatively easy, though it may look like a daunting process. If you have followed the method described in this blog post, the process should remove the membrane and anything else attached to the seed. If that is still not working, I would recommend fermenting for another day or so until the membrane comes off. I was afraid of the fermentation process for years, but once I finally bit the bullet and did it – it was a piece of cake.

Blight in Seeds?

Tomato blight starts at the bottom and works its way up

Blight and other fungal infestations, as well as Leaf Spot and other bacterial infestations, are wind- and soil- transferred, not seed-transferred. So you can save seeds from your blight infested tomatoes if you want.

Here’s the thing: it’s best to save seeds from strong plants that out-competed blight and other diseases, because those traits are worth passing on to the next generation. If you had plants that fared better than the rest, save seeds from those plants.

Also, genetic diversity is key for ensuring a reliable seed supply. Harvest seeds from several plants (if you have room to grow more than one of each variety) rather than just one. Genetic depression (a weakening of the desirable traits or disease resistance) occurs after several generations when we don’t save seeds from a larger population of a particular cultivar.

Thanks for writing in. I hope this helps. Happy seed-saving!

 

 

 

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