How to Save Seeds From Vegetables


Peas, beans, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes are the easiest of vegetables to save seeds from. These five varieties of vegetables are all self-pollinating and will produce seeds in the same season they are planted. Additionally, the seeds are easily harvested out of these vegetables. When you plant the vegetables you want to save seeds from, make sure you are not planting hybrid seeds. Vegetables grown from hybrid seeds will produce seeds that are unpredictable or possibly not even viable. Peas and beans will have to be sacrificed to gather seeds, but you can eat the peppers and tomatoes and some of the lettuce you want to save seeds from.

Step 1

Save the seeds of peas and beans by allowing the pods to dry out on the plant. Pick the pods about a month after harvest time is past, and spread them out to dry for another two weeks before shelling them. Alternately, you can store peas and beans within the pod.

Step 2

Save the seeds of peppers by harvesting the pepper when it is fully mature. Slice the pepper in half and scoop out the seeds. Spread the seeds out evenly in an area with dry, cool air. Allow them to fully dry.

Step 3

Save the seeds of tomatoes by harvesting the tomato when it is fully mature. Scoop out the tomatoes gel-coated seeds and place them in a jar of water. Keep the seeds at a temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and stir the water twice a day until the seeds settle to the bottom of the jar (this usually happens within five days.) Pour off the mold and the liquid before spreading the seeds out to dry.

Step 4

Save the seeds of lettuce by letting your lettuce plant go to seed. Allow the seed heads to dry for two to three weeks after flowering. Cut the entire top off of the plant and hang it upside down to dry. Harvest the seeds by gently shaking or rubbing them off of the stalk.

Step 5

Store your seeds in cool, dark conditions. Place them in individual paper envelopes, and store these in a tightly sealed glass jar. Keep this jar in your refrigerator.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass jar
  • Water
  • String
  • Hangers or hooks
  • Newspaper or paper towels
  • Plastic or glass plates
  • Metal screen
  • Refrigerator
  • Paper envelopes


  • Northern Gardening: Saving Vegetable Seeds
  • University of Minnesota: Saving Vegetable Seeds
  • International Seed Saving Institute: Seed Saving Instructions for Beginners
Keywords: saving seeds, harvesting seeds, storing seeds

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.