Saving garden seeds | Living the Country Life

Saving garden seeds

Get a jump start on next year's garden by saving seeds from this year's best producers. Learn how!

Collecting seeds

I've never intentionally saved seeds from my garden from year to year. But I have had seeds over-winter by accident and come up the next year. We've had repeat performances of pumpkins, sunflowers, watermelon, and squash, and I didn't have to do a thing! I'm always amazed when I hear stories of people growing vegetables from seeds that have been passed down for generations. What delicious memories they must bring!

Diane Whealy is co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange, an heirloom seed company, and says tomato seeds are a favorite to keep from one year to the next. If you'd like to give it a try, use tomatoes that are fully ripe. Squeeze the seeds into a container, cover with water, and let them ferment for a few days till there's a layer of mold on the top.

"You take the mold off, thinking that you're going to get rid of a lot of the viral and bacterial diseases that were starting to grow on the top sack around it," Whealy says. "This breaks that down as well. And then you're just going to basically skim the mold off, put the seeds in a strainer and wash them, and then lay them out to dry."

For legume crops like peas and beans, let the pods mature on the plant till they're dry and the seeds rattle when you shake them. To save green pepper seeds, scrape them away from the pulp and dry them out.

Drying and storing

"The important thing is before you store it and put it in an envelope or however you're going to do it, make sure that it's dried down properly," Whealy says. "You don't want any moisture left in the seed because that could cause more harm than anything. You just want to make sure the seed is cured."

Once they're dried, they have to go into some sort of container. Whealy says she's seen people store their seeds in jars, in pill containers, even between newspapers. Put them to bed for the winter in a cool, dry place like a garage or basement.

You can also put the seeds in small plastic storage bags and keep them in the freezer until spring.

Click on the video below for more on saving seeds:

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