GardenDrumHow long does a tomato seed last? About 150 years

tomato brown

How long does a tomato seed last? About 150 years it seems, even after you’ve eaten it! Archeologists in Illinois have dug up tomato seeds from an old 1850s privy. And some germinated.

Among broken china and clay pipes dating from 1850s that were unearthed from the privy (previously covered by an old carpark at the Lincoln-Manahan historic home in Sterling) there were a whole of “undigested fruit and vegetable seeds” as they were then labelled. The curator of the local historical society tried but failed to germinate some of the seed.

Fortunately Master Gardener MaryLouise Angone arrived on the scene, and with her expertise was able to germinate two of the 50 seeds sowed, although nobody knew what they were until they started to grow.

It’s taken a while but they’ve finally born 6 tomatoes which, when rip are:

“a burnt, brownish color, instead of red. They taste very good.”

Now that’s an heirloom variety! But the seed preservation method may not be to everyone’s taste.

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2 thoughts on “How long does a tomato seed last? About 150 years

  1. Oh dear, Catherine, considering the provenance of the seeds, I’m not surprised the tomatoes turned out brownish instead of red!

  2. Plants are just the most extraordinary things. I am, this spring, just so gobsmacked and in love with plantiness that I am fit to burst!

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