Sunday, September 6, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

Yesterday was Out With The Old as I ripped out the blight infested tomato plants and straw that accompanied them, two 30 gallon trash bags full to be exact. Today I am looking forward to doing a tomato taste test with some heirloom varieties I picked up at Kimball's Farm in Hollis New Hampshire yesterday, followed by an attempt at seed saving. Then it is on to more sowing of cold hardy vegetable varieties, and maybe even some cold frame construction. Well that last bit is probably more wishful thinking than anything else, but eventually there will be two cold frames in my garden!

These are the directions I will be following for my seed saving:

From : Tomato - Lycopersicon esculentum

HARVEST: If possible, allow tomatoes to completely ripen before harvesting for seed production. Unripe fruits, saved from the first frost, will ripen slowly if kept in a cool, dry location. Seeds from green, unripe fruits will be most viable if extracted after allowing the fruits to turn color.

PROCESS: Cut the tomato into halves at its equator, opening the vertical cavities that contain the seeds. Gently squeeze out from the cavities the jelly-like substance that contains the seeds. If done carefully, the tomato itself can still be eaten or saved for canning, sun-drying or dehydrating.

Place the jelly and seeds into a small jar or glass. (Add a little water if you are processing only one or two small tomatoes.) Loosely cover the container and place in a warm location, 60-75° F. for about three days. Stir once a day.

A layer of fungus will begin to appear on the top of the mixture after a couple of days. This fungus not only eats the gelatinous coat that surrounds each seed and prevents germination, it also produces antibiotics that help to control seed-borne diseases like bacterial spot, canker and speck.

After three days fill the seed container with warm water. Let the contents settle and begin pouring out the water along with pieces of tomato pulp and immature seeds floating on top. Note: Viable seeds are heavier and settle to the bottom of the jar. Repeat this process until water being poured out is almost clear and clean seeds line the bottom of the container. Pour these clean seeds into a strainer that has holes smaller than the seeds. Let the excess water drip out and invert the strainer onto paper towel or piece of newspaper. Allow the seeds to dry completely (usually a day or two). Break up the clumps into individual seeds, label and store in a packet or plastic bag.

The Mothers were complaining of watery tasting tomatoes yesterday so I am prepared to be disappointed by the beauties sitting on my counter top, I am at least hoping for a distinct flavor difference between the varieties.

I tried my first Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry recently and it was awesome! I keep searching for another papery husk ripe and ready for the eatin'. Want to know more about the ground cherry? See an old post on them here. Next time I will try and restrain myself from eating them until I have taken a picture.


Erin said...

Blight hit my tomatoes too, but it was rip out day anyway yesterday! I still had a bunch of green ones on the vine, but with the cool fall temps I don't think they would ripen before being hit by bugs! Time for fall...

Michelle said...

Sounds like a good day! I have been curious about the ground cherry..I may have to try one next year. My "experiment" for the year...

Ruralrose said...

what detailed instructions for saving the seeds, i just scoop out the seeds of the oldest and best tomatoes and and dry them until the little seeds flake off, i would do this this year too if i had any ripe tomatoes yet, gardening goes on and on if you are planting for this season you are preparing for the next, peace for all