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I want to save some tom seeds from a few different varieties. When is the best time to pick the toms for saving the seeds. Do they need to be ripe or can seeds be saved from green toms.


Alina W

I have only saved them from reasonably ripe (red) tomatoes.


If you look on the Real Seeds site it tells you precisely how to gather them.  I have done it.  I think the toms have to be ripe.  Green toms will ripen if you give them enough time.


Ripe is best and easiest but you can, if need be, save viable seed from about the time the tom is changing from dark green to lighter green. A good test is to cut open a tom and have a look inside. If the seed has fully developed its gel coating, it's usually good to go.



Sounds like it's best to wait for the toms to ripen. Three varieties have ripe toms on so I made a start this evening with moneymaker. I'd picked and eaten all the ripe toms on Christmas grape, red pear and floridity before deciding to save some seeds so they are ripening on the vine hung from the GH ceiling.  

Italophile - Golden sunrise, may have had a fungus and some of the toms developed rusty spots around the top of the developed fruits, is this plant worth saving seeds from if I choose healthy fruit.

Welshonion - I couldn't find the real seeds site, is that's it's full name, the site I found was all about cannabis seeds   



I always bag the flowers on plants when I'm going to save seeds just to guarantee against cross-pollination. Once the fruit has set I remove the bag and tie some coloured thread to the fruit (or truss) to remind me it's for seed-saving. Sometimes I completely overlook the thread when harvesting and eat the dang things!

If GS had some fungus on the leaves it won't have impacted on the fruit or its seeds. The only real risk with saving seeds in terms of disease is perpetuating seed-borne disease. I doubt your GS suffered any such.

Anyway, it's always a good idea to ferment the seeds in the saving process. Some people just remove the seeds and dry them. Fermenting them does two important things: (1) the gooey seed gel, left in place, can inhibit germination and fermenting removes it quickly and easily; and (2) it kills off pathogens that might be lurking.

Dovefromabove - got the link - what an excellent site, it's gone into my favourites. I was a little keen with the seeds saved yesterday, missing out fermentation completely . I've three varieties now in water and fermenting.

Saving seeds is a learning curve at present, all advise is welcome. 

Italophile - Wish now I'd bagged my beans, according to 'real seeds' broad beans need to be a mile apart to avoid cross pollination.        

Hi, just to let you guys know, I've dried Floridity, Golden Sunrise and Red Pear. Followed the advise, fermented  them for 3-4 days, all seeds sank in the water when rinsed and they've dried out nicely, the seeds didn't even stick to the plate 

I've Christmas Grape, Money Maker and a 3rd variety which have ripened after being hung upside down in GH so will be saving those


Good going, Zoomer. A guaranteed way for the seeds not to stick when they're drying is to use unbleached cone coffee filters. I use the Melitta brand. They absorb the moisture in a flash and don't cling onto the seeds.

Can I save seed from Ferline?  Not sure if it is a hybrid/non-hybrid variety - does it matter? Please explain!


Ferline is a hybrid variety. Saved seeds won't produce fruit 100% true to the parent. The first generation will produce similar fruit, subsequent generations from saved seeds will produce more variations of the varieties used in the hybridising as the gene pool starts to unravel. To produce fruit 100% true to the parent plant you need to save seeds from pure (heirloom) varieties.

Thanks Italophile.  What sort of varations can I expect?  Distorted shape/colour etc. - I can live with that if they still taste good!


There probably won't be a discernible difference in taste in the first generation. As to the variations, it depends how many varieties were involved in the original hybridising and what they were. Similar varieties, hybridised, won't throw huge differences when de-hybridised. There can be anything from two to half a dozen varieties used when hybridising. Obviously, the more the varieties, the larger the gene pool that will eventually unravel.

I know a few growers - with too much time on their hands - who love to try to dehybridise hybrids to try to determine the original parents. They spend years at it.


Thanks again Italophile - you are very knowledgeable!  Unfortunately I don't have that much time on my hands but am a keen amateur with a thirst for understanding.  I think I will give them a try (a little mystery never hurt anyone) but buy some hybrid seeds too.  Incidentally can you recommend any other varieties which do not require a greenhouse (this is on my very long wish list). Thanks so much.


Why not try some pure (heirloom) varieties? The good ones taste better than most hybrids because the first thing to suffer in the hybridising process is flavour. Understandable because you're mixing two - and often more - different gene pools.

All tom varieties will grow both outdoors and in greenhouses. Greenhouses only come into play for climate reasons. Toms need as much warmth - and sunlight - as they can get and greenhouses are sometimes the only way to achieve and maintain the necessary warmth.

How long is your growing season? By which I mean, what are your best summer temps and how long do they last?

I'm based in Kent (The Garden of England) UK so weather is very temperamental, however just harvested a trug full of green tomatos which I plan to turn into chutney.  Ferline was recommended by a friend as being quite resistant against blight. She was right - may of my neighbours (even Monty) have suffered this year - but I rather smugly have not (even without a greenhouse).  We have had maybe a dozen red ones but mostly they grew but didn't ripen. 


Greenhouses offer no protection against fungal diseases. In fact, even with ventilation the relatively closed environment can be an incubator. There are also fungal diseases specific to greenhouses, rarely if ever seen outdoors. There's really no avoiding fungal problems. The spores are airborne, they're everywhere in the air, and all you can do is try to minimise their impact by either preventive spraying or judicious housekeeping.

Blight-resistant varieties are a bit of a misnomer. They've become popular marketing devices. Unless you're hit with the destructive Late Blight, most of the everyday fungal problems don't destroy tomato plants. Providing you take some care - removing affected foliage as soon as infection appears, etc - a plant will usually live a normal productive life.


As you know Italophile, half of my outdoor Marmande plants showed clear signs of what appeared to be Late Blight in mid July - by removing every affected leaflet as soon as the infection showed (inspecting 3 times per day), and moving the affected plants to another part of the garden away from all other tomato plants, the affected plants continued to grow and fruit and the infection did not spread. 

We are ripening our toms indoors, but despite the dreaded blight, we still had a reasonable crop.  The affected plants have now been bagged and will be taken to the local authority recycling depot - I'm not putting them on my compost heaps.