How to Process Vegetable Seeds


Long before you could run to the hardware store for new garden seed each season, farmers and vegetable growers saved seed from year to year to start their gardens. Farmers who saved seed put aside the best vegetables on the strongest, hardiest, most vigorous plants each year. In this way, farmers developed their own unique strain of vegetables that were ideally suited for their region. If you save seeds, you can develop your own vegetable strains in this way. The key is to process the seeds correctly before you store them.

Step 1

Select heirloom vegetables to save seeds from. Hybrid vegetable seeds do not produce plants exactly like the parent plant they grew from.

Step 2

Wait until the vegetables are slightly past the point of maturity to harvest the seeds. Seeds become mature when vegetables are past the point of maturity. For example, peppers will have wrinkled skin, and pea or bean plants will be at the verge of splitting open.

Step 3

Pick the seeds out of the vegetables.

Step 4

Wash the seeds thoroughly to remove any remaining pulp. Spread the seeds on a paper towel and allow them to dry.

Step 5

Place the seeds in glass containers to store.

Step 6

Put the glass containers in a refrigerator with the temperature set between 32 and 41 degrees. Add a small amount of silica gel to the container to absorb moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetables
  • Paper towels
  • Glass containers
  • Paper envelopes
  • Markers


  • Colorado State University Extension: Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Saving Vegetables Seeds: Tomatoes, Peppers, Peas and Beans
  • Mississippi State University:

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University Extension: Saving Seed
Keywords: saving seed, growing vegetables, raising plants

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."