Saving seeds saves money while continuing the availability of some heirloom varieties of vegetables. Seeds are primarily saved from non-hybrid plants as hybrid plants do not always produce viable seeds or seeds that are true to the parent plant. Saving the seeds properly ensures they will remain viable until you plant them next year and will have the highest germination rate possible. Plan ahead on which plants to save the seeds from so you are prepared when it is time to collect them.
Allow the healthiest fruit on the best plant in your garden to ripen completely. Allow tomatoes and peppers to reach full maturity, beans and peas to brown and dry on the vine, and other plants to ripen or go to seed naturally. Pick once fully ripe.
Remove the seeds from the vegetable. Cut open peppers and tomatoes to access the seeds, then set the rest of the vegetable aside for eating or preserving. Place tomato seeds in a jar of water to wash away the gel coating---the seeds will sink to the bottom in 3 to 4 days. Remove beans and peas from the pod and shake seeds from lettuce off the stalk into a paper bag.
Spread out a layer of newspaper in a warm, dry room. Spread the seeds out on top of the newspaper in a single layer to dry. Allow to dry for approximately one week.
Brush off any remaining vegetable pulp from the seeds once they are dry. Place inside envelopes or jars and mark the plant variety and year collected on the envelope.
Store the seeds in a cool, dry area until ready to plant. Store in a sealed jar or plastic bag inside the refrigerator if no other suitable place is available.