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How to Grow A Tomato from a Grocery Store or Farm Gate Tomato

Growing stuff from your lunch fruit and veggies is a great idea! That lettuce and tomato sandwich you are planning for lunch could potentially give you back several times more lettuce leaves and tomato slices than you started with.

And showing a friend or grandchild how you grew your tomato from seeds that you gently removed before you made a sandwich, well, wouldn't that be fun?

Before you get going with the growing, here are a few tips:
  1. Choose a nice ripe heirloom variety of tomato to purchase... the riper, the better, and if it is a heirloom (very old strain of seed that hasn't been tampered with, we're assuming) the seeds will more likely germinate, and grow into a "true" fruit-- something you will recognize as being like the tomato you had on your sandwich.  You may have to pay a little more, but you will enjoy the tomato on your sandwich, plus you will be assured of its 'coming back'.  If you buy it in tomato harvest season from a farm gate (that is, from a farmer with a veggie stand) or at a farmers' market or a local wholefood store that supports local growers, you will definitely increase your chances of getting the kind of produce you are dreaming of.
  2. Depending on where you live, and whether or not you have a greenhouse, you will likely not be planting your tomato seeds for a while after you have purchased the tomato and removed the seeds.  You can, however, check to see if you have seeds that will germinate... either put them in a damp paper towel in a baggy for a few days and check for sprouts, or grow them up in an egg carton with some damp, fine compost, covered with plastic wrap until they pop through (if they do).  
  3. Dry the seeds first, and if you have a type of small tomato (like Tom Thumb, for example) you can check out these directions for preserving your seeds.  This might seem a whole lot more veggie-nerdy than you were counting on, but believe me, if you do it the "right way" and end up with a bright and beautiful mass of these gems you will be soooo appreciative of the extra efforts!
  4. Here is the way to plant a tomato from a slice of a store-bought Beefsteak you were going to toss:
  5. That's the one!  Now go head and slice the top off and then take a slim slice under that......
Lay that slice, cut side down, on moist soil -- I am using a peat pot but any pot will do
Now go ahead and sprinkle a layer of soil over that.

Let the seeds sprout (7-14 days).  There will likely be a mass of sprouts.  Let them grow and pick the three or four strongest and transplant plant each carefully in its own pot.  Move into light and lightly fertilize.  With several leaves you can move into the garden.

**Unfortunately some seeds are sterile and while they will produce a plant, they will not produce fruit!**

Here are a couple of great videos that can fill in the gaps around actually growing from scratch (well, seed) and answer questions you might have:
 The fellow in this video found this huge ripe heirloom tomato in his local grocery store.  He takes the seeds out and talks about a fermenting process he uses with the seeds.
Jeremiah Jones with a clearly presented video on how to save your tomato seeds, and clean them up for storage.  He also emphasizes that a heirloom tomato is a good choice for collecting seeds.

The presentation is the most comprehensive of the three-- shows the "paper towel method" of collecting and planting seeds, and the process of fermentation.  He also demonstrates how he uses the dehydrator to fully dry his seeds.  And he is fairly funny (bonus).

Have a look HERE at some other plants you can grow yourself cheap or free!