How to Harvest Seeds From a Garden

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Harvesting seeds from a garden has many advantages. Not only do you save money when the next planting season rolls around, each year your plants will become hardier and stronger and you will have heirloom seeds to pass on to the next generation. Read on to learn how to harvest seeds from a garden.


Preparing Seeds For Harvest

Step 1

When harvesting your produce, always leave a few specimens behind in the garden for seed harvesting. If you are growing pod type vegetables such as green beans or peas, allow the pods to continue to ripen and dry on the vine. The seeds inside the pod are easily removed once they are dry.

Step 2

Understand that vegetables and fruit should also be left on the vine or bush and allowed to "over" ripen. Once you pick the fruit or vegetable, gently mash down and pull out the seeds. If you have a hard time doing this with your fingers you may use tweezers, but be careful with how much pressure you apply to the seeds. Once you have gathered the seeds from the pulp, place them in a glass container with twice as much water as seeds. Allow seeds to soak for 48 hours. After the allotted time discard any seeds that are floating on the top of the water. Taking the seeds that have sunk to the bottom, lay them out to dry on paper towels or screen.

Step 3

When harvesting flower seeds allow the heads to dry on the plant. Gather the seed pods when brown but before they have split. Gently open the seed pods over a sheet of tissue paper as it makes it easier to gather the smaller seeds. If you are gathering seeds from flowers such as poppies, you may allow the seed pods to dry on the plant to the point where you can just shake them out of the pod.

Storing Harvested Seeds

Step 1

Know that the key to maintaining healthy seeds is to keep them dry. Place your dried seeds in a paper envelope, and then seal. The paper envelopes absorb moisture from the air and aid in maintaining a dry environment. You can purchase small envelopes made especially for seeds, or use ordinary white stationary envelopes. If you plan to give the seeds as gifts, you can get creative and design your own.

Step 2

Label seed envelopes with type of seed and date stored. Labeling can be done before or after putting seeds in. If you are designing your own envelopes you will naturally want to wait until after.

Step 3

Place sealed and labeled paper envelopes in an airtight container. You can use a plastic shoe box, storage bin or put the envelopes inside a larger plastic food storage bag. This gives your seeds an extra layer of protection from moisture and shock.

Tips and Warnings

Harvested seeds make great gifts. Design your own envelopes and include planting instructions. If you have planted hybrid plants, it is not wise to try to harvest these seeds as future offspring from hybrid plants are inferior.

Things You'll Need

Small paper envelopes, Plastic airtight container, Tweezers (optional)

About this Author

A freelance writer for more than 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. Her articles have appeared in "Catskill Country" magazine, "The Lookout Magazine," "Capper's," "Birds and Blooms" and "Country Discoveries," to name a few. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants.

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