I greatly enjoy being able to harvest seeds from plants I’ve grown in my own garden. Being able to have seeds for the following year, instead of going out and buying them, makes me feel even better about what I’m growing in the garden. I buy quality seeds and make sure they come from plants who will continue to produce great seeds, year after year. If you enjoy having a garden of your own and are looking into raising plants you can save seeds from, here are some tips on saving seeds.
Which Types of Plants/Seeds to Select?
Choose open-pollinated plants, as opposed to hybrid varieties, if you are thinking about saving seeds for future plantings. Seeds from hybrid plants are a product of two different parents, so the plants grown from these seeds won’t be exactly like the original plant.
When you choose open-pollinated varieties, whether they are self-pollinating or cross-pollinating types, they will produce plants exactly like the parent one; year after year. Self-pollinating plants include; peppers, tomatoes, beans, and peas. Cross-pollinating plants include: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, melons, cucumbers, squash, carrots, corn, & beets.
In my opinion, heirloom varieties offer a wide selection with the best turn-out for great seed crops, year after year. You can order these types of seeds from catalogs or online, they can be found at many farmers markets, or even some specialty feed stores carry heirloom seeds. You can also join a Seed-of-the-Month Club!
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Allowing Seeds to Dry on Plants
Seeds from legumes, peas, beans, and corn can be harvested once the plant has dried up. Leave a small number of plants untouched during your last harvest. Once the plants have turned brown and all the pods, kernels, etc, are brown and dry, separate each individual seed from the others so they can dry completely and so you won’t have to worry about them molding in the pods.
Depending on how many seeds you collect at the end of harvest time, you might be able to have enough seeds to keep you going for multiple years. You’ll be able to try growing a different variety, if you like, without worrying about running out of seeds for your favorite crop. This will enable you to see if there’s another type of plant that will give you more produce and seeds with fewer plants.
Learn more: 5 Tips For Starting Seeds Indoors
Harvesting Seeds from Fruits and Veggies
Some seeds have to be gathered from the innards of fruits and veggies, such as in tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, or melons. You’ll have to rinse off any seeds that are enclosed inside moist fruits and veggies and allow them to dry on a sheet of newspaper. Not rinsing the seeds and allowing them to dry on their own can sometimes cause the seeds to become moldy.
Once dry, seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place. Seeds can be stored in any number of containers; mason jars, small film canisters, or even plastic baggies. Place all containers in a cool, dry place, such as the refrigerator. To keep moisture out of the containers, you can add a packet of silica gel to the jar or baggie, or wrap a couple of tablespoons of powdered milk inside a few layers of facial tissue (make sure they aren’t the kind with lotion in them!), and drop these inside the containers.
Be sure to put a date on the containers, as well as the name of the seeds. When it comes time to plant the seeds, allow them to become room temperature before you take them out of the containers.
Learn more: Can I Still Use Last Year’s Seeds?
If you live in a place with extremely low humidity, you might be able to get away with storing large quantities of peas, beans, corn, or other large seeds in paper sacks in a dark closet. Be sure to check on these now and then, to make sure they aren’t becoming moldy. There’s nothing worse then getting ready to plan your next garden and finding out all your seeds have mold on them.
For more resources, check out the Seed Saving Resources site!
What types of seeds are you saving this year?