The basics of seed saving involves understanding the different types of seeds and what they need. Here is a great guide for how to save seeds!
Saving Seed Starters
The art of saving the seed. It’s one of the most beautiful elements of gardening— retrieving the seeds from hearty plants to begin another cycle of life.
Like cultivating and harvesting, with each plant there’s a different method for saving its seeds. Lucky for us, humans have been saving seeds for thousands of years so we do have some general rules of thumb to go by! Here is how to save seeds the right way!
How to Save Seeds
First of all – and this is BIG:
Not all seeds can be saved. When learning how to save seeds, this is important to note. You should only save heirloom seeds that you know were not bred to be sterile or hybrid. Let me explain.
Hybrid is a term that means that a plant was created by cross pollinating two seed varieties. One seed might be for vigorous growth, and another might be for disease resistance. When you use seeds from hybrid varieties, the resulting plant may or may not contain the characteristics of the original plant. For instance, you could get a tomato that doesn’t look anything like the one you harvested and loved, or it may not produce anything. Heirloom plants are open pollinated by bees and birds and may not be as productive as a hybrid, but the seeds you’ve saved properly will guarantee that the plant will be the same, year after year.
That means, no, you may not be able to grow vegetables from the seeds (mostly hybrid) in grocery store items. This is intentionally done by mainstream growers so they can create food that lasts in a grocery, shipping, and mass production setting. I know, that might come as a shock to you because many people on TikTok for example have mentioned how to save seeds from grocery store vegetables but it won’t work the same as saving the right seeds.
The Best Seeds to Save: Heirloom Varieties
Be sure that when you buy seeds, they’re heirloom varieties, or if you buy starts, try to get heirloom varieties as well. Many organic seedlings at the nursery may be fine to save seeds from, but there is also no guarantee that they’ll produce well.
How to Save Different Types of Seeds
In the next few paragraphs, I am going to outline how to save small and large seeds, beans and peas, as well as how to save annual flower seeds.
How to Save Small Seeds:
For small seeds that are inside of the fruit, try and choose your best harvest. I know, that’s tricky. To save the seeds of fruit that has small seeds inside like tomatoes and strawberries, you roughly chop it, place it in a mason jar, add some water to macerate, or soften it. Shake, shake, shake as hard as you can, and the seeds will separate from the flesh. Strain out the seeds from the pulp and set them out to dry a few days, then store.
How to Save Large Seeds:
For larger seeds, like those of squash or cucumber, remove any flesh from around the seed and gently dry with a towel to save the seeds. Set your seeds on a paper towel to cure/dry in a single layer out of direct sunlight. They should be thoroughly dry in about three to seven days. Store in an envelope or glass jar in a cool, dry place.
How to Save Beans and Peas:
To save our podded friends, you need to let some of the bean and pea pods stay on the vine to dry out. They’ll naturally do the work for you. Collect the pods, gently open them, and take out the inner pea or bean. Make sure they are fully dry before storing them.
How to Save Annual Flower Seeds:
Saving these seeds is a favorite because it’s easy. We’re talking how to save zinnia, calendula, cosmos, and sunflower seeds. Simply let your flower heads mature on the plant and dry out to a brown-grey color. Don’t wait too long— a quick brush of the hand will release the seeds contained in the flower head.
To decide which seeds to save, choose among the best and plumpest flowers as those good genes will be passed along! Once you’ve collected the seeds into your hands, spread them out on a clean surface and keep the ones that are complete and well-formed.
Store in an envelope in a cool dry place with a label on them. Note the date you saved the seeds on, the flower variety, and a good sow date.
How to Store Saved Seeds
Cool, dry places are best. Inside paper envelopes or in even glass jars can be perfect. Just be sure saved seeds are 100% dry, or they will mold/rot.
I know this may seem like a bit more work than just buying your seeds or seedlings from the nursery, but from my experience, I can be confident of the variety I am growing. How many times have you purchased a seedling only to find it is not what the label proclaimed it to be? Harvest your seeds with the tips shared in this how to save seeds guide and you will be guaranteed of success and healthy plants!
For more like this post, check out the ones below:
My Favorite Must-Grow Zinnias & Zinnia Growing Tips
Container Garden Tips: How To Keep Your Flowers Blooming All Summer Long
Grow Like a Pro: Seed Starting for Beginners
Leave a Reply