Saving seeds from your summer and fall veggie (and flowers) harvest saves you time and money next year when you go to plant anew.

It’s easy to harvest seeds from this year’s garden for next year’s crop. We can’t wait to eat that very first ripe tomato that comes off the vine. It’s tough to resist the urge to enjoy it in a salad or BLT.

Saving the seeds from your first tomato of the season can benefit next year’s tomato harvest.

Genes are passed down through the seeds. If you grow heirloom tomatoes and save those seeds, you will pass down the heirloom qualities of this year’s harvest. Use that first tomoato or other vegetable – the early-ripener – to grow more of the same next year.

You might not get the same results with hybrid tomato seeds that you get with heirlooms. Hybrids cannot guarantee traits from this season to next season’s seeds because they carry many different traits. But they can carry over the early ripening gene – so whether you have heirloom or hybrid plants, you can still harvest the seeds for an earlier ripening time in next year’s garden.

To harvest those first seeds:

  • Slice through the equator of the seed – remove seeds and as much gel surrounding them as you can. It will ferment and remove the hormone that prevents germination.
  • Use back of the spoon to separate mass – cover seeds with 1-2 inches of water and plastic wrap over the top with a slit in it. Store in warm place a couple days. Wait for scum to form on top of the water.
  • Remove/dispose of floating seeds.
  • Empty seeds into sieve and wash with water.
  • Dry seeds on a plate for about three weeks.
  • Store dried seeds in a paper packet until you are ready to plant next summer’s tomatoes.