Friday, October 23, 2009

Heat treating tomato seeds to avoid diseases

For those who are interested in saving and using seeds from your own garden, or who receive seeds from non-guaranteed sources - here's how we heat-treat tomato seed to kill diseases. Remember, however, that hybrid seeds most likely will not produce the same fruit as the parent plant did. If you want seeds that hold true to their parents you must use open-pollinated, or heirloom seeds.

First, place seeds, along with the natural juices surrounding them, in a bowl or bottle. Place the bottle in a warm place out of the sunlight. Allow to ferment for 5-7 days (the time can vary, depending on conditions). Once the gelatin has broken down from around the seeds, you may proceed to the next step. Pour off all materials other than the seeds. Rinse the seeds gently in fresh water until they are clean - being careful not to wash them down the drain!

After you have fermented the seed and cleaned it, and (preferably) before drying, place seeds in the toe of a pantyhose. Fill a bowl or pan with hot water from the kitchen tap. Using a candy thermometer, adjust the water temperature to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, with more water - cold or hot. Place pantyhose with seeds in water, moving gently to assure even distribution of water over all seeds. Add hot water to bring temperature back up to 130 degrees. Continue the gentle seed movement and maintain temperature at 130 degrees for 30 minutes. Do not allow the temperature to vary more than a degree either side of 130. Less than 130 degrees will not kill diseases, and more than 130 for any length of time will kill the seed.

Remove seeds from water. Spread thinly on a paper towel in a warm dry place. Allow to dry. When completely dry, place in a storage container with appropriate labeling. Do not return seeds to the container they were in before the heat treatment, but use a clean container.

While heat treatment will reduce germination by 10-20%, it is the weakest seeds that are lost, and the reduction in diseases is well worth the effort.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home