A summer of fresh garden vegetables is satisfying for the home gardener who has put in months of sowing, plowing, weeding and watering. One way to extend a successful garden is to collect seeds from your harvest for future seasons. Some seeds can be stored for up to 5 to 10 years with the proper combination of moisture and temperature. The drying process you use on your summer vegetable seeds is also important to determining how long they can be stored.
Spread your garden seeds out evenly on a cookie sheet. Place them in your oven at 100 degrees F. Leave the oven door partially open during the process so they don't overheat. Let the seeds dry in the oven for six hours.
Label each jar with the date and type of seed you plan to place in the jar. Put your seeds inside mini 2 ¼ x 3 ¾ envelopes. Label the outside of the envelope with the date and type of seed as well.
Fill each of your cotton cloth bags with ½ cup of dried powdered milk. Pull the drawstring shut to seal the bag. Place one bag inside each jar. The powdered milk helps to ensure that your seeds stay dry.
Put the envelopes containing the seeds into the jar labeled for that seed. Seal the jars tightly and place them in a cool, dark and dry place. Store at temperatures of about 40 degrees F. A refrigerator works well for this purpose. You can also store them in the freezer for longer time periods.
Remove your seeds from storage and let them sit at room temperature overnight before getting them ready to be planted.
Test a few seeds of each vegetable for germination by placing them between two moist paper towels. Keep them at between 65 to 70 degrees F, and check them each day for germination. If you have at least a 70 percent, or 7 out of 10 seeds, germination rate for the seeds you tested, your seeds are viable and can be planted.