Harvesting and Saving Seeds

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by Kinderfarmhomeschool.com

Public domain image by Lukas Budimaier found on Unsplash.com

Harvesting and Saving Seeds: An activity for all ages. One of the great things about growing your own fruits and vegetables is that you can begin saving seeds just like your ancestors did for thousands of years. In this lesson you will learn the basics of seed saving and how to store them for seasons to come.

  • Supplies
    • Ripened fruits from your garden
    • Paper towels
    • Envelopes
    • Rice
    • Zip-lock bags
  • Effective seed storing only has three rules. If you follow these rules you will be very successful.
    • Store the seeds clean.
    • Store the seeds dry.
    • Store the seeds cool.
  • First of all wait until the fruit of the plant is well ripened, over ripened, or even dried out. This will insure that the seeds are fully developed and will produce new plants.
  • Clean the seeds. This can be done by washing them with water, letting them soak for a few days, or (with some varieties of plants) just allowing the fruit to dry out so the seeds come out clean by themselves.
  • Dry the seeds by spreading them out on a paper towel or screen. Make sure to give them several days to really dry out before storing them.
  • Place the dried seeds into envelopes. Put the envelopes into zip-lock bags and place some rice in the bags to absorb moisture.
  • Story them in a cool place such as the refrigerator or a cellar or basement.
  • Note that some plants have to the allowed to “go to seed” such as beets, basil, onions, and others. Onion seeds are especially easy to save since they fall right out of the flower already dried out and ready to store.

Here are some videos showing some different methods of seed saving.

For more advanced gardeners consider the following:

  • Beyond seed saving basics you can make it as simple or complicated as you like. Before you get started here are some things to consider.
    • True breeding seeds. If you want the exact same variety of plant make sure it doesn’t cross pollinate with a different type of the same family. This can be done with the following methods
      • Hand pollinate (using a small paint brush to transfer pollen) and then seal off the flower (using a paper bag or some other method)
      • Keep different varieties of plants in the same family more than 25 feet away from each other
      • Screen (or “cage”) plants from pollinators and only hand pollinate
      • Plant different varieties of plants at different times so they flower at different times and cannot cross pollinate
    • Open pollination
      • If you don’t mind if your plants cross pollinate and may produce a slightly different type of plant the following year (which may be better or worse) you can allow them to pollinate at will.
      • If you use heirloom seeds they will usually have plants very similar to the parent plant even with open pollination.
    • Purposeful cross pollination (hybridization). This is a lesson in trial and error. Some seeds from cross pollination will produce inferior plants and fruit and some will produce superior plants and fruit. Many of our most used crops have been produced this way.
      • To cross pollinate successfully use a small paint brush to transfer pollen from the flower of one variety of plant to the flower of another variety of plant in the same family.

The last video is actually a series of videos that goes into great detail about the different methods of seed saving for most of the common garden vegetables.