Around the House with Plotch

Close up of bright red tomatoes with their green tops.

We’ve been enjoying the last of our tomato crop for the year and for the first time I’ve taken the plunge and saved the seeds! A friend from Willunga gave us these plants which they’d grown from saved seeds the year before and I’m hoping that by saving seeds from plants in our own patch we’ll get plants more and more suited to our particular microclimate. That’s what the experts say will happen and who am I to argue with science?

It’s very simple to do: when slicing a primo quality tomato for a pizza or sandwich, just scrape out the seeds from each side of the slices with your sharp knife and plop them directly into a glass jar. When you’ve got all the seeds add a little water to the jar and set aside for a few days to ferment. This makes the outer layer of the seed available for germination. (When I checked the Gardening Australia website to see if I’d remembered how to do this correctly it turned out there were a few trains of thought on the matter: one fact sheet said one day of fermentation, another three days, and then another said it wasn’t necessary at all. I’ve erred on the side of caution and gone with three days.) Once fermentation is done (you could experiment yourself about how many days is necessary), sieve the seeds through some muslin or an old clean stocking foot or similar, and then pop the seeds onto a piece of paper towel. Space them out so that when the soil warms enough in spring you can just cut up the paper towel and sow directly. Store them somewhere cool, dry, and dark until then.

A small jar with a tomato alongside and a piece of paper towel with tomato seeds dotting it.

The other exciting thing happening in our yard is the growth of the seedlings we’re growing for Trees For Life. We’ve been growing since about 1993 with only one year off in that time and it continues to be one of the most rewarding things we do. These ones are destined for a property in Willunga Hills and as they mature they’ll do their bit to draw down carbon from the atmosphere, produce oxygen, clean the air, provide habitat for critters, reduce erosion, improve soil quality, and enhance visual amenity.

It’s so satisfying to see them grow from this:

Close up of tiny seedlings in black plastic tubes.

To this:

Maturing seedlings of various native South Australian varieties in foam boxes on a table.

Now it’s time to get out and grade the last box into height order so that the little ones can get their fair share of sunlight and grow as large as possible before we hand them over to the landholder.

It’s too late to start growing now, but why not investigate growing next year, getting involved in a planting day, being a seed collector, or other bush care activities? You won’t regret getting your hands dirty – it’s good for you and good for the planet.

© Palitja Moore, text and images, 2019 and 2020.

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