Welcome August, and with it the bounty of the summer garden! Late summer is a wonderful time of year to share some of your prize veggies with your friends and brag a bit about your growing skills in the garden. We know how to enjoy harvest time, but we often miss a secondary harvest from which you will reap many rewards. Save your seeds! Even if you didn’t garden this year, you can save seeds from the foods you eat.
The world of seed saving can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Starting out is simple and only requires time, experimentation, and a few household items.
Check out how saving seeds benefits you:
- Saving the cost of seed for the next growing cycle
- Knowing the source of your seed and its production conditions
- Self-reliance and increased confidence
- Fascination with the history of seeds! Warning, it can become an obsession.
- Breeding and naming your own, localized varieties
- Refining varieties that are adapted to your local environment
Start by gathering seeds from foods you’ve grown, especially organic ones, that you like to eat. You might want to try pepper, squash, fermented tomatoes, beans, or peas. Organic foods have a better chance of staying truer from the vegetable or fruit you eat and the next generation. But not always. Buying from local farmers that use open-pollinated, heirloom, vegetable seed is best. However, even if you have a hybrid in your seed collection, by continuing to select for the best qualities, you can arrive at something unique and valuable.
Next, treat the seeds. Tomatoes need to be submerged in water for about three days until the gelatinous coating ferments off. Then, dry the seeds on a paper towel. This is one of the more “science lab” types of seeds to be saved. Most seeds just need to be left to dry for a few days. Remove any seeds that seem damaged or affected by mold or bacteria.
Finally, label and store your seeds. Once the seeds are dry, you can store them for future use. Try labeling seeds using type, specific variety, date saved, and source. They should be stored in a cool, dry place. Some seed savers dry the silica packets from consumer goods in the oven to reactivate them. These packets can be put in envelopes, tins, and jars with the seeds. I reuse envelopes from mailings and store my seeds in tins organized by the next season I’ll start sowing them.
To learn more about seed saving, check out Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth.
Your seeds are now waiting for their chance to shine in your garden!