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.

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