Garden Tips: Saving Your Seeds

In order to consider next year’s garden, a gardener must first consider saving their seeds, unless you’re going to purchase them, of course. I know the excitement of purchasing seeds, so I’m not going to try to deter you from that. But I will say, there’s also a sense of pride that I get when I save my seeds from the previous year.

Remember: You must allow your seeds to dry completely before you store them or they risk mildew and the chance of going utterly rancid. If you haven’t smelled a jar of rancid seeds yet, consider yourself lucky! Once your seeds are totally dried, they need to be stored in a cool and dry place.

Wet Seeds…

…Are produced from the fruit of a plant.

These are typically squash, zucchini, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, cantaloupe, tomato, and eggplant.

  • Wait until the fruit is completely mature before you harvest the fruit.
  • Open the fruit and scoop the seeds out from within the flesh of the fruit.
  • Thoroughly rinse the flesh from the seeds. Be sure to remove the flesh completely or risk an increased chance of mold forming.
  • Using a paper towel, drying rack, or other quick-drying method, lay the seeds out to dry. Whereever the seeds are laid needs to be cool, dry, and with enough air circulation that the seeds can completely dry.
  • Consider fermenting the seeds of tomatoes or cucumbers in order to reduce the risk of diseases.
    • Fermenting tomato and cucumber requires seeds scooping the seeds out of the fruit and placing them in a jar of water.
    • Cover the jar with a cheesecloth.
    • After about 3 to 4 days of soaking in the water, there will be a white film that forms on the top.
    • At this point, you will want to add a bit more water to the jar and then stir the jar gently.
    • You will be able to see the mature seeds as they are the ones that will sink to the bottom of the jar.
    • Strain the mature seeds, rinse, and lay them out to completely dry.

Dry Seeds…

…Seeds that mature in a dry pod or when exposed to the open air. Consider the head of a sunflower, for instance. Sunflower seeds are not ready to harvest until the head and neck of the stem right under the flower have turned dry and brown. This indicates that full maturity has been reached and that the seeds are now ready to harvest.

If possible, seeds should remain on the plant as long as possible to ensure full maturation and drying have been achieved. Once the seeds are dried out, detach them from the pod or flower head.

These are typically flowers, beans, and peas.

Thrashing

  • Collect seeds/pods in a bucket or pail when completely dried.
  • Thresh (or bang) the seeds against the wall of the bucket.
  • The seeds will burst or fall from the pods and naturally separated from their coating.

Winnowing

  • All you need is a bowl and some wind!
  • Collect all your seeds in a bowl.
  • With your breath, a fan, or a gentle wind, simply grab a handful of seeds

Don’t Forget!

  • Let all your seeds dry completely.
  • Store them in a jar with a silica packet, or paper envelope. The best place I’ve found to store seeds are in paper envelopes like these.
  • Store in a cool, dry place.
  • Properly label all your seeds.
  • Don’t forget to date them!

For a beautiful video on how to better save your seeds, please enjoy one of my favorite YouTube channels Suburban Homestead.

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