Gardening can be a rewarding experience. You can also make it a nearly free experience by saving the seeds from fruits and vegetables each year for the following season's crop. Harvesting seeds from produce takes time and work, but seeing the results the following year makes it worth doing. Different types of fruits and vegetables require different methods of harvesting seeds, but the seeds themselves should all be stored the same way.
Gathering Pulp Fruit and Vegetable Seeds
Keep the fruit or vegetable on the vine to ripen, but do not allow it to become over-ripe. Harvest the produce as usual. Pulp fruits and vegetables include tomatoes, berries, cucumbers and squash.
Lay a cloth or paper towel on a flat surface and place the produce on the towel.
Cut a fruit or vegetable such as an apple, pear, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin or squash in half with a knife to gain access to the seeds. You may need to cut the sections in half again to get better access to the seeds.
Set berries on a plate in a single layer. Push down on the berries with your fingers to break them open. Avoid pushing too hard as this can damage the seeds.
Fill a small bowl with water.
Lift the seeds with a spoon or your fingers and place the seeds in the water. Gently rinse the seeds of any remaining pulp.
Drain the contents of the bowl into a small strainer that has a fine wire screen.
Pour the seeds onto a paper towel in a single layer. Fold the paper towel in half and pat the seeds dry.
Gathering Stem Seeds
Allow flowers to grow from the stems of plants such as carrots, beets and kale. Keep the stems on the plant until you notice the flowers drying out or the seeds beginning to drop.
Cut the stems from the plant with scissors, making sure not to shake the seeds or flowers loose.
Turn the stems upside down and tie the ends together into a bunch with string. Leave enough string to tie the other end to a nail or hook.
Hang the stems in a warm, dark, dry area with good ventilation. Wait for the stems to become dry and crisp.
Lay a box or paper bag on a flat surface. Holding the bunch by the end in one hand, gently shake or tap the other end of the bunch so the seeds fall into the box or bag.
Gathering Pod Produce Seeds
Keep pod produce such as beans, peas and peanuts on the plant until the plant begins to turn brown. Tap the seed pod to check for rattling seeds inside about 30 days past the time of normal harvesting for food gathering.
Cut the pods from the stems with the scissors. Pull peanut plants from the ground before cutting off the pods.
Spread the pods out in a single layer on a flat surface indoors and allow them to dry for a minimum of 14 days. You can remove the seeds from the pods or keep them inside the pods for storage.
Place the seeds or seed pods in a glass container with a cover that can be tightly sealed. Mark each container with the type of seed and date packed for future reference.
Wrap 2 tbsp. of powdered milk in a piece of facial tissue and put this package into the container.
Keep the container in a dry, cool area with a temperature of 32 degrees to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The side of a refrigerator shelf will work as long as you don't put the seeds in the back corner; seeds that freeze will fail to germinate.
About this Author
Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.