A bit off the normal posts today for something else that my family does. As it looks to me more and more people are returning to gardening, with that people are learning that you can save your own seeds. This is something that my family has done for nearly 10 years. It is one of the easiest things you can do but it does take some time and dedication. It might be easier for some just to go out and buy the seeds, but for my family, it is our way of knowing our seeds and what we can expect. One important note, hybrid seeds should not be saved, as they will not turn out like their first year parents.
Best seeds to save:
The things that are the best to save seeds back from are tomatoes, peas, beans and pretty much all peppers. Each of which have a bit of a different way that is best to preserve and save the seeds. Since these are all self pollinating they make about the best plants to save seeds from. Heirloom seeds are just that, passed down from generation to generation. These would make the best ones to save! If you have a certain plant that does exceptionally well, this might be one to think about using for your save.
Saving tomato seeds does require a bit of time and a trick to knowing how to do it correctly. The first step is to allow the fruit to ripen completely. Cut the tomato into either sections or slices and scoop out the seeds along with the protective gel that covers them. Put them into a glass jar and cover the seeds and "goo" till the jar is about 1/3 to 1/2 full depending on how many seeds you are saving. Put the lid on it and let it sit on your counter out of the way. Each day take the lid off and give the seeds a gentle stir. On or about day 6 the protective gel will have degraded and the seeds will have fallen to the bottom of the jar. There could be a bit of scum on the top during this process, don't worry that is natural. Once the seeds have all been de-goo'd place them into a small holed wire strainer or something similar and rinse them well. After they have been rinsed, spread the seeds out onto a plain white paper towel and let them dry for 2-3 days. Once the seeds are dry, simply put them in an air tight container, label as to what they are and the date you put them in and store them till your ready to use them.
Peppers seeds are one of the easiest to obtain and save. The best way is to allow them to fully ripen on the plant until they just start to wrinkle. Pick the peppers and cut the seed pods out. Gently pull the seeds off the pod and spread them out on a white paper towel to dry for 2-3 days. Once dried, just like above place them in a labeled air tight container and store. Pretty simple huh.
Peas and Beans:
These do take a bit longer to harvest. Wait for about a month after you would normally harvest both of these. You will need to wait until the pods turn brown and are very dry. You should be able to hear them rattle around a bit. once you can hear them rattle, bring them in for final drying. Usually a week or so. You can either remove them from the husks or store them in the pods until you are ready to plant them.
Storing your seeds in a cool dry place is the best way to do it. you may also think about placing a silicone gel pack in the container to help ward off moisture.
As with all my posts, feel free to ask questions or leave me a comment. I do my best to answer them all.