Growing your own vegetables from seeds that you harvest from grocery-store vegetables appeals to the adventurer inside every gardener, but the results can be unpredictable. You may hover over stubborn no-grow seeds, happy that at least they were free. Your new vegetable plant may or may not retain all of the characteristics of its parent plant. You may get many leaves and no vegetables. Then again, satisfaction might bloom from your unconventional efforts. Taking a chance on grocery store vegetable seeds will enliven your winter indoor gardening, and the results may delight you.
Assembling your resources: Summer and fall
Choose fresh vegetables that have been exposed to as little processing as possible.
Give seed-source vegetables extra time to produce mature seeds. Leave seed-source vegetables at room temperature until they show slight signs of aging.
Remove pumpkin, squash, tomato, pepper, and cucumber seeds and let them sit overnight in their surrounding gel or membrane. Rinse seeds, separate them and dry thoroughly on paper towels. After several days, store seeds in small paper bags, envelopes, or small glass jars, in a cool dry place for early-spring indoor planting.
Prepare soil for the outside transition many of your vegetable seedlings will need to produce fruit of their own. Clear a sunny area of soil and dig in soil enhancers such as peat moss before your frost date.
Moving from store to garden
Treat harvested and stored seeds as you would commercial seeds. Plan to start seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area. Providing indoor light, warmth and water gets your seeds off to a protected start.
Allow a full week of outdoor hardening-off for your seedlings and observe recommended planting dates for your area. To harden seedlings, place them outside in a sheltered spot. If temperatures are still cold at night, you may wish to bring them inside and return them to the outdoors the next day.
Transplant seedlings and water consistently.