How to Use Seed From Your Own Garden

Overview

Seed saving is an old-fashioned practice that is coming back into popularity. By saving seeds from your garden you can save money and help heirloom varieties survive into the future. Many of the seeds that are available today are hybrids. If you grow plants from them and then collect and grow their seeds, they could be sterile and not produce fruit or vegetables. If they do produce fruit, it will usually not reproduce true to type. Before you embark on seed saving, make sure that your seeds are "heirloom" varieties and not hybrids.

Saving Seeds from Your Own Garden

Step 1

Allow the plants from which you want to collect seeds to ripen past the point where you would normally harvest them. This applies to fruit such as peaches as well as vegetables like corn and tomatoes.

Step 2

Cut open the fruit or vegetable whose seeds you want to save in fall. Clean the fleshy pulp off the seeds by washing or gently scraping it off. Then dry the seeds by laying them on a sheet of paper towel and then cover them with another sheet. Pat gently and then remove the seeds before they begin to stick to the paper.

Step 3

Set up an old window screen, or other screen, in a warm, dry, dark, well ventilated area---garages are often a good location. Scatter your seeds on the screen. Small seeds should dry within one week. Larger seeds, such as those from fruit, can take longer to dry.

Step 4

Tie flower spikes of herbs such as basil into small bundles and hang them from a clothesline in a warm, dry, dark, well-ventilated area. Shake the spikes onto a sheet of newspaper or into a small box when the foliage feels crunchy and dry---the seeds will fall out.

Step 5

Transfer your dried seeds to plastic zipper bags and store them in your refrigerator vegetable crisper or another cool, dark, dry location.

Things You'll Need

  • Clippers
  • Window screen
  • Clothesline
  • Twine or string
  • Clothespins
  • Newspaper
  • Small box
  • Plastic zipper storage bags

References

  • International Seed Saving Institute
  • Open pollinated seeds
Keywords: seed saving, gardening heirlooms, fruit vegetables

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.