Tomato seeds

Never before have I tried growing a tomatos plants from seeds.
If I take the seeds from a tomato, do I dry them out...how...and for how long...then what? ( Then I become a tomato farmer...with two or three plants.)
Bill William Redding Medical Researcher at www.linkable.org Learn a language at www.ITeachOonline.com
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Yup, you want to dry them for storage. But there's a little excitement along the way -- you get to ferment them in pulp for a few days. Cut the tomato in half and squeeze the seeds and the adjacent mucilaginous "goo" into a shallow cup -- an old cottage cheese carton works well. Add a couple of Tbsp of water to the goo in the cup, and lay the carton lid over the mouth of the carton -- you want some air to get in, but the contents not to dry quickly. Give the contents a stir every morning (it'll stink a bit), and add more water if things are starting to dry out. In about 3-4 days, you'll see the goo has gotten much less thick, and most of the seeds are sitting on the bottom of the cup -- they're the ones you're going to save.
Pour the guck in the cup off, retaining the seeds in the bottom of the cup. Rinse the seeds well with cool running water (I use a tea strainer), and then spread the seeds out on a piece of paper. Let the seeds air dry for several days -- when you pick up the paper and the seeds aren't stuck, they're ready to store. I just fold up the paper they were dried on into an envelope, write the name of the cultivar on it, and store it in a plastic box in the refrigerator crisper for the following year.
The fermentation process both separates the seeds from the pulp and gives the seeds a pretty acidic environment for a couple of days, long enough to stop the transmission of a bacterial pathogen that's seed-borne.
If you're growing "heirloom tomatoes" and you have only one cultivar, chances are good your seedlings will come true next year. If you've got several types, you may see some intermediates between the cultivars next year... you've created hybrids. If you're growing hybrid tomatoes this year and save seed from them, you're going to see a lot more variability in the progeny next year.
Anyhow, enjoy... the process isn't difficult, and it's fun to see what you get.
FWIW, when I lived in the upper midwest (Iowa, to be exact), I found that if I direct-seeded my tomatoes outdoors about the time everyone else was putting out tomato plants from those little 6-pack pony packs, my direct- seeded tomatoes were ripe within a day or two of the same cultivar planted from pony packs. Saves a whole lot of fussing with cold frames, fluorescent lights, repotting seedlings, etc., etc. But then again, growing your own veggie transplants can be fun, too.
With our very short growing season in the cooler portions of the Pacific Northwest, I've found it does pay to transplant some pretty husky starts for everything but the shortest season tomatoes. Our coolish temperatures just don't make for quick early growth of tomato plants from direct seeding in the garden.
Kay
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Bill wrote:

Note that hybrid tomatoes tend to revert to a previous generation. You might lose some of the characteristics that were prized in the tomato. That's the same reason that volunteer plants don't work too well.
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Thank you both so very much.
I live in the opposite part of the country from Kay...central Florida.
Since we have two tomatoe seasons a year, I wonder if storing for a half-year would work?
Bill William Redding Medical Researcher at www.linkable.org Learn a language at www.ITeachOonline.com
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