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How to Dry Garden Seeds

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How to Dry Garden Seeds

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Overview

Save seeds from your favorite garden plants, and save yourself the expense of purchasing fresh seed stock each year. Seeds must be dried properly before storage, otherwise they are prone to mildew or rot before you have a chance to plant them. Wet seeds, such as tomato, require a longer drying time when compared to relatively dry seeds, like most flower seeds. Drying time is also affected by the weather and humidity in the home during drying, so adjust the time spent drying if necessary if the seeds still seem damp.

Step 1

Pick fruit when it is completely ripe. Leave pods, including flower pods and legumes such as peas and beans, on the plant until they dry and turn brown naturally.

Step 2

Scoop seeds from the fruit, and split open pods with your fingers to remove seeds. Place the seeds in a mesh strainer, and rinse away any pulp under lukewarm running water, if necessary.

Step 3

Line a baking sheet or tray with paper towels. Spread the seeds out on the paper towel in a single layer, arranging the seeds so they are not touching each other. Cover small seeds with a second layer of paper towels if you are concerned that they may blow away in an air draft.

Step 4

Place the trays in a warm, well-ventilated room to dry for seven to 14 days. Pod seeds usually dry within a week with no further care. Turn wet seeds once during the drying period and leave them to dry until they are no longer moist or sticky.

Step 5

Place the seeds in an envelope or glass jar. Put a small packet of silica gel, available from florists, in the envelope with the seeds to absorb any excess moisture during storage.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not save seed from hybrid plants, as these seeds are rarely viable.

Things You'll Need

  • Mesh strainer
  • Baking sheet
  • Paper towels
  • Envelope or jar
  • Silica gel

References

  • University of Illinois Extension: Saving Seed from the Garden
  • Oregon State University Extension: Collecting and Storing Seeds from your Garden
Keywords: drying garden seeds, seed saving, preparing collected seeds

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.