Saving seeds can be an inexpensive way to continue the great harvest of a vegetable or flower garden. For hundreds of years, it was part of the task of growing food. Now, buying seed packets can be inexpensive and easy, with a wide variety available (especially in our Garden Shop!).
If you spread a handful of flower seeds last spring, chances are you are still enjoying the reseeded flowers this year. Clip and save seed pods to broadcast next spring, or just let the flowers go wild; that’s what they do naturally!
Seeds from peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers, squashes and herbs are easy to save. After harvesting ripe, but not rotted fruits, remove as much pulp as possible. Beans and peas should be left on the plant until the pods are dry, and squashes should be left until the first frost, than harvested.
Spread seeds on a paper towel and air dry. You can try to speed up drying in the oven or a dehydrator, but temperatures over 100° F will damage the seed. Never use a microwave.
Store seeds in a cool, dry place away from hungry critters. Only seal seeds in a container when they are completely dry, since any moisture can lead to mold.
Use seeds the following season, since seeds will lose their viability after the first year.
If the vegetable seed you used was a hybrid, which is genetically modified, chances are seeds from these will not be true to its parent. This is often the case with saving seeds from store-bought vegetables. The best results are also from self-pollinated plants, listed here.
Originally published on August 3rd, 2011. Updated on August 31st, 2022.