SAVE VEGETABLE SEEDS: It's easy and fun to save vegetable seeds from your garden and it's a great way to save money at planting time. Seed saving is also a great way to grow a variety of plants you really enjoyed again. In addition, you can make sure your vegetable seeds are pure if you harvest them yourself.

How to Save Seeds from your Vegetable Garden

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It’s simple to save seeds from your vegetable garden to grow again next season. Check out these tips for saving seeds from different plants. It saves you money too! It’s a great skill to learn in gardening for beginners.

a child's hand holding a bean seed pod with seeds inside and a pile of sunflower seeds.

Saving vegetable seeds helps us retain diversity in plants we are losing over time. You must save your own seeds from heirloom or open-pollinated fruits and vegetables to get the same crop the following year. Saving seeds is a great way to save money in the garden.

Hybrid vegetables are a cross between two or more varieties and will not yield the same product. Also, do not save seeds from diseased plants to avoid spreading disease to future seasons.

How to save seeds

To save your own seeds, make sure they are COMPLETELY dry so they don’t mold or rot in the packages. Place them in paper envelopes and store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. It’s best to use saved seeds the following year, but different seeds have different lengths of time they stay viable.

Some seeds such as corn do not save well for several years and are best used right away when other seeds will last for many years if stored properly. Find out how long seeds last in storage here.

When you save vegetable seeds from your garden, you want to let a few of the fruit or vegetable grow too big for eating so you get the biggest and strongest seeds to save. Choose the best fruits or vegetables with the best flavor to save the seeds from.

Some can be left on the plant to dry out, and other seeds such as those from cucumbers, melons, and squash need to be removed from the pulp and dried completely on a paper towel.

Saving green bean seeds

You can save dried bean seeds, green bean seeds, and peas the same way, by letting them get big and tough and then drying out. Then just take your dried beans and store them in a cool dry place for next year.

Saving Okra seeds

Saving okra seed is done in a similar way. You can let the okra grow gigantic and dry on the stalk or you can let it grow gigantic and pick it and let it dry on your kitchen counter until it cracks and the seeds fall out. If you let them dry outside, watch closely because the seeds will fall out of the pod when it cracks.

You could let that happen and let the seeds for next year plant themselves if you wanted to. Also, you can watch and when the dried pods look like they are about to open, you can tie a bag around the pod to catch the seeds when they open.

a child holding dried bean pods with seeds inside
bowl of sunflower seeds

You can harvest seeds from flowers you love such as zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds and more by letting the heads dry out. When the seeds are dry, you can easily pull them out and save them for next time. The petals of the flowers are actually attached to the seed at the bottom. 

Seed saving techniques

Some seeds need to be fermented or wet processed before you save them, like tomato seeds. You can see how to do that from this demonstration by my fellow childcare provider/preschool gardening teacher, Andrea.

She is teaching her kids in Indiana to grow their own food on a suburban lot just like we are here in Oklahoma. My Little Sprouts and I haven’t been gardening long, and haven’t mastered this one yet.

Saving broccoli seeds

Some plants bolt or send up shoots with seed heads that flower, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, lettuce, and many others. 

This year we grew peas, flowers, okra, and cantaloupe from seeds we previously saved. Talk about feeling like a superhero. You know the scene in Castaway when Tom Hanks finally makes a fire after trying and trying? Then he shouts I HAVE MADE FIRE!

That’s how I feel when I see a plant growing from seeds we saved. Even though it’s not hard, I just can’t believe we did it! I’m ALWAYS enamored by how seeds germinate. What seeds could you try to save this fall for next year?

Click here for tips on how to start a survival garden.

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  1. Some day I will learn this craft. I always worry about if cross pollination has happened to keep the seeds pure. So, for now I just take pride in patronizing the seed savers. And … letting volunteer sunflowers, orach, and squash plants spring up where ever a bird has decided to drop a seed.

    1. We do that too, but it’s fun to try to grow things from your own seeds too. The older kids especially have liked that. 🙂

  2. I had my kids save the sunflower seeds from the Mammoth Greys we grew this year. I told them we would grow them again next year. They are pretty excited about it.

  3. Great Post! Thank you for sharing my link, too! We are trying to learn more about saving seeds each year. I’m glad you mentioned beans, because we are attempting it for the first time this year, and I was feeling a little uncertain….you gave me a little more confidence that maybe it did it right. 😉

      1. We grew a few different types of green beans, but the type we are trying to save seed from are Kentucky Wonder Beans from Baker Creek.