Saving vegetable seeds from your garden is a fun and easy way to save on the garden budget.
But its also the perfect way to grow healthier plants, and a have a more productive garden!
By saving seeds from your best vegetables and from your healthiest and highest producing plants, you create a higher quality seed stock to grow from the following year.
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And high quality seed means a better chance of having plants that grow well in your soil, and produce even more vegetables.
Saving Vegetable Seeds – What You Can & Can’t Save
When saving seeds, it’s important to know that not all seeds from every plant can be saved.
The best seeds to save are heirloom seeds
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated seeds. That means, that left on their own, they continue to produce the same crop, with the same seeds, year after year.
You can find open-pollinated or heirloom varieties of seed for nearly every vegetable under the sun.
What Can’t Be Saved
Unfortunately, some vegetable plant varieties cannot be saved. And at the top of this list are hybrid plants.
Hybrid plants are created by crossing two or more varieties of a vegetable plant to produce a new plant with new qualities.
The only issue is that the seeds from these plants will not produce the same plant the following year.
Instead, when seeds of these plants are saved, they usually will revert back to grow a version of one of the original plants.
Or in some cases, a plant that produces no fruit at all!
How To Save Vegetable Seeds
The process for saving vegetable seeds is nearly identical for every vegetable plant except tomatoes, which require an extra step to ensure success. (We cover that step at the end of this article)
Always start by selecting the best vegetables from whatever vegetable seed you will be saving. Make sure you are picking from the healthiest and most productive plants in the garden.
Why? Because the highest quality plants and vegetables are most likely to produce the best seed.
Always pick mature vegetables that have fully ripened, and are completely free of any sign of disease.
Cut the vegetable in half, and then scrape the seeds gently from the core.
Next, lay the seeds on a dry paper towel, and place in warm, sunny location to dry.
It will usually takes a few weeks for seeds to dry out completely. Once dried, take a new piece of a paper towel, and fold the seeds up inside of it.
The paper towel will help to absorb any moisture that might be left in the seed. It will also help protect the seed from any damage from light.
Store in an airtight container or plastic bag, and keep in a cool and dry location.
Seeds can be kept in a refrigerator or even in the freezer for a longer shelf life. However, if you will be using the seeds the following season, cold storage is not necessary.
Saving Vegetable Seeds – What About Those Tomatoes?
We mentioned earlier that saving heirloom tomato seeds involved an extra step. And if you want to save tomato seeds, that extra step is a must to ensure success.
Tomatoes have a natural, protective coat around their seed. And without helping the seed break down that outer coating, they struggle to germinate. (See : How To Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds)
But fortunately, the process to break down the coating is simple and easy.
It all boils down to letting the seeds rot or ferment.
Start by selecting the tomatoes you would like to save, and then scrape the pulp and seeds into a small jar or container.
Let the container sit for a few days until it develops a bit of mold on top. Although it may look a bit ugly, it is the mold that works to break down the protective coat.
You may want to store the container away a bit, as it can produce a bit of odor.
After a few days, simply rinse the seeds off with water, and then allow to dry out like the other vegetable seeds. And that’s it!
Here is to saving seeds from your vegetable garden to grow again next year.
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