Harvesting Seeds From Your Garden

When you harvest your produce from your garden you can harvest next year's seeds right along with it using these methods.

There are many reasons to harvest your seeds year after year. Some gardeners like to pass quality seed down from generation to generation. Others prefer to save their own seed to save money and still others do it because it can lead to growing plants that produce quite well in their location. Seeds and plants can grow to be resistant to hazards or blights that occur in the environment they are consistently raised in.

Before harvesting seeds there are a few things to be aware of. If you have planted "hybrid" seeds it is not a good idea to try and save these seeds. A "hybrid" is an offspring of two plants of different varieties and the seeds they produce tend to be inferior. Even though your seed packet may not have said "hybrid", plants that have grown too close to each other, such as pumpkins and squash, can be natural hybrids, as it is more than likely they have cross pollinated.

One method for harvesting seeds, such as vegetables, is to let the fruit ripen on the vine or plant to the point that it is overripe. Once you have picked the fruit or vegetable, mash it gently. Pull out the seeds and soak them in water for 48 hours. The seeds that come to the top are usually too dry or infertile to be of any use and they can be discarded. Take out the seeds that have sunk to the bottom and dry them on a piece of paper.

Vegetables such as green beans or peas can be allowed to dry on the vine. Once pods are dry remove the seeds. Flower seeds should be gathered when the pods are brown and come off the plant easily. Try not to wait until the pods have already split. Poppy seeds and columbine seeds can wait until you simply shake them out of the pod. Plants with heads similar to blackeyed susans and coneflowers should be allowed to dry on the stalk which will allow the head to fully expand, allowing seeds to ripen and making it easier for them drop out.

Once you have gathered the seeds you wish to save, the next step is storing them. Proper storage is key to how well they will produce next year. The main thing to remember when storing seeds is to keep them cool and dry. The best place to keep your seeds is in a paper envelope, as they allow air in to keep the seeds dry. Moisture can cause mold and speed up the seed's biological processes. Be sure to label your envelope with the seed name and the date. Once you have the seeds in the paper envelopes you can then store them in an airtight container if you wish.

Harvesting your own seeds involves trial and error from season to season. The methods of harvesting mentioned above have been around for a long time and prove to work well, and as long as you take care to store them properly the results are very rewarding.

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