Seed saving is an inexpensive way to grow your favorite vegetables and ornamental plants from year to year. The best plants to save seeds from are those that are non-hybrid or heirloom varieties. Hybrid plants do not produce viable seed or the seed grows into something different from the plant you collected it from. Seeds are produced either via a fruit or from the flower, depending on the plant variety. Most vegetable seeds are in fruits or pods, while most ornamental plants produce either flowers or pods.
Allow the fruit to fully mature on the plant. Allow pods to dry out until the seeds rattle inside. Pick the fruit from the plant once it is fully mature but before it splits open on its own.
Cut open the fruit or split open the pods. Remove the seeds and lay out on a layer of paper towels. Rinse off seeds covered in pulp before laying out on the towels.
Set the seeds in a warm, well-ventilated room for 2 weeks to dry. Spread the seeds out while drying so they aren't touching one another.
Place dried seeds into an envelope for storage. Label the envelope with the seed variety and year harvested.
Allow the flowers to bloom then begin to wilt. Check that there is no fruit production as some flowers will begin forming pods once the flowers fall off. If there are no pods, seeds will be at the base of the petals.
Cut off the flower head once seeds have visibly formed. Some seeds will be small so look closely.
Lay the flower heads out on a sheet of paper towels and place in a warm, well-ventilated room to dry. Allow the flower heads to dry for 2 weeks.
Separate the seeds from the flower heads. Rub each seed between your fingers to separate it from the dried plant material. Break up any large seed clusters such as on zinnia.
Label an envelope with the plant variety and year collected. Place seeds inside and store in a dry, cool place.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.