Ever kept your own seeds? I haven't. Until this year that is. I'm not keeping a lot of them, certainly not from everything that I grew, but this will definitely be the first year that I have made a conscious effort to have kept some of them.
There's some concern out there that this may be the year that we start to see some shortages in seeds at least on a consumer level. Sharon Astyk wrote a good piece on it this morning that is well worth the read. Shortage possibilities have not been my catalyst in wanting to start seed saving as much as it has just been an added benefit, but I do remember this years nurseries and the shortages of starts that I was so shocked to see and honestly I wouldn't be surprised to see some shortages affecting select areas.
One of the more interesting seeds that I am saving this year are my tomatoes. The seeds aren't necessarily so interesting as is the way you get them out of that gelatinous muck that they come in. What I did, was to process some of the end of season tomatoes and just squeezed that seed gel out into a separate container. I did this for each species of seed that I wanted to keep, pictured are the brandywine, hamson and cherry and made sure to label them immediately, it's amazing how much the seeds look alike out of the tomato.
What's happening now is that they are fermenting. Just like making pickles softens cucumbers, so to does fermenting the tomato seeds. It breaks down the gel around them, and it can them be removed easily. I put mine into a strainer and ran cool water over them while stirring with my finger. The gel easily washed away leaving me some clean seed.
I didn't get a picture of it, but what I did next was to place the seeds between two paper towels, spread them out, and press down to get as much water as possible away. I then scraped them onto another couple of paper towels and pressed again. I left this together to dry for a couple of days and then scraped off into small containers and am storing them in my refrigerator. It's important to get as much water off of the seeds as soon as you wash them so that they don't decide to germinate while they dry. You probably also want to dry them in a cool place rather than a warm one.
In addition to the tomatoes seen here, I am also saving seed from San Marzano's, radishes, parsley, cilantro (coriander) and carrots that I can think of. It's not big stuff, but it's a start. As with all things like this, you can't just jump right in and be an expert. It takes steps and experience and that's what I'm working toward. What kind of seeds are you saving? Any secrets to share.
All the best...