Seed saving is a time-honored tradition that farmers and home gardeners have used for millennia. Before the introduction of large seed companies that made purchasing garden seeds convenient and easy, seed saving was an important part of self-sufficiency and sustainability. You can carry on this practice today by saving seeds from vegetables such as beans that you grow in your summer vegetable garden. Just make sure that your beans are heirloom varieties and not hybrids, because if they are hybrids, they will not reproduce "true to type."
Storing Bean Seeds
Earmark a few bean plants for your seed-saving and storing project. After your bean plants are mature, evaluate them for robustness, vigor, size and quality of the beans. Avoid plants that appear weak or diseased or that do not start their lives by producing flowers that quickly develop into plump beans.
Allow your chosen bean plants to produce as many beans as possible. Take care of these plants in the same way you care for other bean plants, but do not harvest any beans from them---allow the bean pods to turn brown on the plants, which can take up to one month longer than it takes to produce beans that are good for eating.
Harvest your mostly dry bean pods when you can hear the seeds rattling inside of the pods. You will likely make several harvests during late summer.
Remove the seeds from the pods after you pick them and then spread them on an old window screen propped up on 2-by-4 boards or bricks. Keep the screen containing your seeds in a warm, dark, dry, well-ventilated place, such as your garage, for about two weeks.
Store your bean seeds in Mason jars with tight-fitting lids or other containers that are airtight. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place. Be sure to label your jars with the name of the type of seed and the date you stored them.