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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.
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.
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.