Have you wanted to take your gardening to the next level? Did you have a variety of tomatoes you really loved this year and want to grow again next year? Now is a great time of year to think about saving your seeds.
Many gardeners first starting out wonder what seeds to choose, when to harvest the seeds, and how to store them. This article will show you how.
Seed saving is a fun project you can experiment with year to year while saving money and being sustainable.
The first step is to make a plan.
Plan which seeds you want to plant next year. Start with easy crops like tomato or bell peppers, or choose whatever annually seeding plant you would like. (Make sure you save enough seeds to grow enough plants desired for the season.) Another thing to consider is this: The more seeds you save, the more genetic diversity you will have. This will be explained later.
Tomatoes, peppers, beans, and peas are great choices for those new to seed saving. They are simple to save. They don’t require any special treatment before storing and are self-pollinating. Additionally, they only need one growing season to go to seed unlike some other biennial crops such as carrots and beets or perennial crops like asparagus, which need multiple growing seasons.
It’s recommended that you choose “open-pollinated” varieties, which often times are “heirlooms”. Heirloom variety plants have strong genetics and can be passed down through generations while remaining similar to the parent plant. This way, you know you will be getting the variety and flavor you want.
You may save cross-pollinating seeds but the risk with vine crops, or any plant with separate male and female flowers, is these can be cross-pollinated by insects or by any other number of ways and the resulting crop can be lower quality or different than expected.
With non-heirloom varieties, you can sometimes have great results. However, it is close to impossible to predict what qualities the next generation of fruit will have. It is not recommended to save seeds from hybrid varieties for this reason.
More genetic diversity = better crop over time.
When to harvest?
The next step is to harvest!
Once your seeds are mature, you can harvest. This is usually when your fruits are mature and ready to eat.
With most plants, you will be able to tell when the plant has gone to seed. The leaves will change and flowers or pods will appear.