It is a gardening bonus and delight to get “something for nothing”. It’s a pleasure to grow new plants from seeds and easy still to harvest and save home garden seeds from favorite vegetables and annual flowers.
The instruction below will tell you how to save your home garden seeds without damaging them.
Choose plants that you wish to save at the beginning of the season. Look for plants with healthy growth habits, abundant flowers or exceptional flavor.
Leave some faded flowers on the plant till the end of the growing season. The end of the bloom cycle is triggered by shorter daylight hours. Garden seeds will start to form as flower production comes to an end.
Harvest seeds when the seed heads are dry to the touch and brown. Gather seed pods by hand or with special clippers if stems are tough.
Leave vegetables to over-ripen on the plant before harvesting home garden seeds. Vegetable seeds are ready to harvest when the fruit is easy to pull off the plant. Beans have to be dry and rattle inside their seed casings. Corn should ripen and dry on the stalk. Tomato seeds can be squeezed out of very ripe fruit and dried on paper towels in the sun.
After harvesting, place home garden seeds on top of a water heater to dry for about a week. Leave to dry thoroughly before storing.
Store garden seeds in their own protective pods or shake them free and store loosely in paper envelopes. Harvested seeds should be kept in paper, never plastic, containers as plastic may cause them to rot.
Label each seed envelope with the variety and date harvested. I would advise using a waterproof pen to avoid disappointment and confusion later on.
Place the marked envelopes inside an air-tight container, for example, a mason jar, and store them in a cool, dry location until the next planting spring. A desiccant can be made of 1 tablespoon powdered milk wrapped in a paper towel. Place it inside the container as it will help to absorb moisture.
What others say
“Due to having a great abundance of seeds, I collect my seeds and put them in brown paper lunch bags making sure to mark the bags. I put them up to dry out…eventually storing them in a dry, cool place. Make sure you never let your seeds get too hot from being stored somewhere extremely warm. Seeds are better off getting too cold then they are too hot. The heat will only damage them.”