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Seed Saving: Collecting and Storing Seeds

Updated on June 17, 2014

Growing and harvesting your own garden seeds is one of the most economical and profitable ways to create a fabulous vegetable garden.  Learn how to grow your own healthy seeds at Seed Saving: Growing Your Own Seeds.  

When your garden plants are mature, begin to watch the flowers and the seed pods that will form and collect the seeds at the right time.  How do you know when the time is right?  Here are some tips for collecting and storing seeds:  

Photo credit: Dhaniyangal on wikipedia.


1. Harvest seeds at the right time. You will need to do some research on what you want to grow in order to learn specifics about when and how to harvest the seed. For most plants, harvesting techniques fall into two categories: wet and dry.

Seeds that are harvested wet are found in juicy plants, such as tomatoes, eggplants and many melons and squashes. When the fruit is at it’s peak of ripeness, harvest it and bring it inside. Allow the fruit to sit at room temperature for a few days, following which the seeds can be harvested and cleaned of pulp. To clean, swish the seeds in water and skim off the pulp. Viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the container. Strain off the water and spread the seeds in a single layer on a tray to dry.

Seeds that are harvested dry are found in beans, okra, peppers, basil, as well as members of the Onion and Carrot Families. Harvest dry seeds when the pods or husks have dried on the plant. If rain threatens as the pods are drying, many seeds can be picked before they are fully dried, but you will need to research your specific varieties as some will not finish ripening after removal from the plant. In any case, it is preferable to leave seeds on the plant until they are fully mature and dry.

2. Place clean, dry seeds in a paper envelope, a mylar bag or a glass spice jar and label them. It is a good idea to include the botanical name on the label, as well as the common name, as this will assist you in planning your plantings for the next season (remember that plants that share a botanical name may cross-pollinate.) Check your seeds after a week or two. If any condensation has collected on the container, remove the seeds and spread them out to dry for a few more days before returning them to the container.

In my opinion, mylar bags are the best option for seed storage. They store flat, requiring little space. Seeds stay dry and fresh for months, or even years! Mylar bags are available for purchase on Amazon.

3. Store seeds in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight. A dark pantry or the refrigerator are good options. Do NOT store seeds in the freezer. Seeds that have been properly cleaned, dried and stored will stay viable for several years.

Photo credit: Global Crop Diversity Trust on Flickr.


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      Jeff 2 years ago

      This is a really inllteigent way to answer the question.