This post is the ninth in a series on seeds. In this series we'll cover everything from the importance of seeds, how to save seeds, how to start seeds, correct storage and so much more!
Seeds are quite amazing. This tiny speck of life can grow into a massive plant producing bountiful food. Today we are going to talk about the basics of saving seeds, focusing on the easiest seeds to save. Seeds from: tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, peas, beans, corn are the easiest for beginners.
You can find part 1-8 of this series here:
Heirloom Seeds Part 1: The Importance of Seed Saving & How to Select The Best Seeds
Heirloom Seeds Part 2: SEEDING FEAR | Documentary Short
Heirloom Seeds Part 3: Determining and Using Plant Hardiness Zones
Heirloom Seeds Part 4: When To Start Your Seeds
Heirloom Seeds Part 5: Seed Starting
Heirloom Seeds Part 6: Sprouting Seeds, Grains & Beans
Heirloom Seeds Part 7: Seed Stratification
Heirloom Seeds Part 8 - Seed Saving Exchanges & Groups
Why Save Seeds?
Heirloom seeds create natural diversity within plant populations. This means that the seeds that you plant will adapt to the growing conditions of your garden. Year after year the seeds that you save will become stronger and more reliable in your climate. In addition to this you get to be part of a growing movement to protect and save our plant diversity and safeguard it for future generations.
Selecting The Best Specimens
As you harvest your garden over the summer look for good healthy plants and fruits. When saving seeds you want to select the best quality from your garden. The seeds carry the genetic traits of that fruit so you want the cream of the crop.
Storage of Seeds
You'll want to find a cool, dark & dry location when storing seeds. Keep them away from heat and humidity and avoid spots that fluctuate in temperature. The reason air tight containers are preferable is that this extends the storage life of your seeds. When improperly stored, seeds can gradually absorb moisture from the air and this will shorten their storage life. We have plenty of mason jars (canning jars) and they come in a wide range of sizes making them quite perfect for our seed storage needs.
Tools You'll Need
A drying area in a sunny/dry location
Fine mesh strainer to rinse the seeds (depending on seed type)
Storage containers for your seeds. (small airtight containers such as mason jars)
Coffee filters or waxed paper
Collecting seed from: tomatoes, cucumber, melons and squash
There are a few ways to save the seeds from fruits and vegetables that store their seeds inside the fruit such as: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons and squash. We use the fermentation method because It has provided us with the highest success rate. Not every seed from the fruit will be "viable" and this method helps to eliminate those that wont grow.
Cut the vegetable in half to expose the seeds
Scoop the seeds and pulp into a glass jar.
Add 1/4 cup of non chlorinated water (if needed). Some fruit will have more pulp and liquid than others. You want your seeds submerged.
Cover with a fabric cloth and rubber band (to keep flies out) and sit in a dark location for 3-5 days. This tends to get a bit smelly, once you see a bit of bubbling and white build up on the top of the jar you'll know they are ready for the next step.
Scoop off the top layer and fill the jar with water. Give the jar a swirl. The seeds that sink to the bottom are the seeds you want to save. Scoop out as many of the floating seeds as you can and discard them.
Dump the remaining contents of the jar into your fine mesh strainer and rinse well.
Spread out the seeds onto a coffee filter or waxed paper plate and let dry. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week. You can use paper towel but the seeds will stick and you'll end up with paper towel bits on the seeds. This really does not matter but if you are selling or sharing seeds it looks a bit messy.
Store in an airtight container in a dry, dark location.
Don't leave seeds to ferment for too long or they will start to germinate and won't be any good for storage.
Collecting Seed from peas, beans & corn
Peas, beans, sunflowers & corn are really easy to save seeds. The vegetable itself is the seed! Simply leave the pods on the stalk/vine until they have dried.
Once dried, make sure to gather the pods or husks on a sunny dry day when there is no moisture in the air.
A good seed will still be full and plump (not withered and shrunken).
Shell the seeds from their pods/husks and spread them out on a flat surface and let them air dry for a day or two just to be sure all moisture has been removed.
Store in an airtight container and store in a dry/dark location.
As you get into saving seeds for resale, or become ready for more advanced techniques you will want to learn about things such as: saving seeds from biennial plants (root veggies, kale, onions, leeks etc) and appropriate isolation distances so that species stay true and don't cross pollinate with one another. We'll cover all of this and more in future posts!
Building a greener, more beautiful world one seed at a time.
Homesteading | Gardening | Frugal Living | Preserving Food| From Scratch Cooking|
You can also find me at: walkerland.ca
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