Saving vegetable seeds from your garden is not only a great way to save money, but it can also improve the quality and production of your garden from year to year. It can also be fun to start and grow your own each year. See : How To Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors.
Saving Vegetable Seeds
Here are the basics to saving vegetable seeds from your garden.
What Seeds You Can Save
When it comes to saving vegetable seeds, it is important to know that there are some seed varieties you can save easily, and some that are more difficult. There are also some you can’t save at all.
Heirloom seed varieties are by far the easiest to save from year to year. Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated varieties that when saved, produce the same crop each growing season.
There are open-pollinated varieties available for nearly every vegetable you can imagine. From tomatoes to peppers, to beans, peas, corn, pumpkins and more!
Although any heirloom seeds can be saved, there are a few vegetables that are more difficult to keep than others. Especially when you grow multiple varieties.
Cucumbers, corn, pumpkins and zucchini fall into this category. If you grow only one heirloom variety, you can save the seed.
But if you grow multiple varieties of the same vegetable, the plants need to be separated by large distances to ensure seeds won’t cross.
And by major, that can mean up to a half-mile in some cases! When growing multiple varieties of these plants, it is best to simply purchase new seed each year.
What Seeds You Can’t Save
The only seeds that cannot be saved with success are hybrid seeds. Hybrids are a cross between multiple plants. When grown, the seeds from these plants will not produce the same plant the following year. Instead, they revert back to one of their original crossed-plants, or a new mutation of it.
When saved and grown, it can result in plants with no production, or a vegetable that looks and tastes nothing like the original.
How To Save – Selecting The Best Vegetables For The Best Seed
Now that you know what you can and can’t save, its time to start saving those seeds!
Begin by selecting a couple of the best vegetables from your best plants. The seeds from your highest quality plants and vegetables are the most likely to grow strong and productive plants next year.
Be sure to pick only mature vegetables that have reached their final size and coloring. Rather than picking just one, pick a few of each variety you want to save. Not only will it give you adequate seeds to plant next year, it also guards against the chance any one vegetable having a bad seed core.
The process from here is the same for nearly every vegetable variety except tomatoes. They require an extra step of fermenting to help score the seeds for germination. We will cover that in a bit.
For all other vegetables, cut the fruit in half and scrape out the seeds from the seed core. Lay seeds on a paper towel in a sunny or warm location to dry out. Most seeds will dry out in about a week or two.
Once they have dried completely to the touch, store in a zip lock bag or airtight container. Place the seeds in a folded paper towel. This will help to absorb any remaining moisture. Store in a cool, dry location until ready to use.
Now Back To Those Tomatoes…
As stated, the process is a bit different for tomatoes. They need to ferment before drying and storing.
The easiest way to accomplish this is by scooping out the pulp and seeds together and placing in a jar. Allow the seeds and pulp to mold for a few days, and then wash off and dry the seeds like above.
This molding process helps to break down the outer protective coating on the tomato seeds, helping them to germinate next year
You can find a complete article on the process of saving tomato seeds on our sister site, This Is My Garden : How To Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Here is to saving seeds from your garden this year! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary. Happy Fall Gardening – Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.This article may contain affiliate links.