It’s the season when we put our gardens to bed for the season and begin dreaming of next year’s garden. Start your vegetable patch from scratch by harvesting and saving seeds now. There are many common vegetables and fruit that you can save seeds from easily at home. There are three ways that this can be done: in the garden, in the house, and through fermenting.
Seeds to Ripen in the Garden
Some seeds are best if they mature right on the plant that they are growing on like beans, peas, lettuce, radish, and kale.
Beans and Peas
Harvest pods when they turn brown. If they’re still green, that means the seeds are still getting nutrients from the pods. Spread them out in a dry place and leave them to dry for about a week. To determine if seeds are ready, bite one! If it feels hard, it’s dry enough and can be packaged up for use next year.
Lettuce, Radish, Kale
For lettuce, place a bag over the plant when it begins to flower. The seeds will fall naturally and collect in the bag. For radish and kale, wait until pods are dry and open by rubbing them between your palms.
Seeds to Scoop and Dry at Home
Some seeds are easy to simply remove and dry on a paper towel, like peppers, pumpkins, and squash.
Wait until the peppers are fully mature (most peppers turn dark red at this point). Slice in half and remove seeds with your fingers. Spread them out on a paper towel and place in a dry location away from direct sunlight for one to two weeks. Store in an airtight container.
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Leave on the vine until a hard outer shell develops. Slice in half, remove the seeds, and rinse them. Pat dry with a paper towel or dish cloth and spread them out on a clean dry surface to dry completely. Keep in mind that squash cross-polinate with other varieties and so the next generation of squash may be a bit different than your original squash. If you like surprises, then saving squash seeds will be a fun project for you!
Some seeds will germinate much better if the membrane that surrounds them is allowed to ferment first. Many people have success with simply drying the seeds without fermentation, but for the healthiest seeds and strongest plants, I use method that Mother Nature uses, fermenting.
Remove seeds from ripe fruit and rinse them in warm water. Place them in a jar with water for two to four days. This will cause the seeds to ferment, and the best ones will sink to the bottom. These are the seeds you want to save, after allowing them to dry for a few days.
When cucumber’s flesh has turned yellowish, cut in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds. As with melon seeds, allow cucumber seeds to ferment in water for a few days and save the ones that sink to the bottom. Once they have dried thoroughly, store them in the refrigerator.
Choose ripe fruits from your healthiest plants. Slice in half and scoop out the seeds (goo and all), then place them into a clean container. Add two tablespoons of water and cover the container with paper towel and attach with a canning ring or rubber band. Leave in a sunny spot for about three days, until mold is visible. After three days, pour the mixture through a sieve and spread the seeds out on a sheet of wax paper. Allow to dry for at least a week.
If you are looking to get started with a vegetable garden, these are some of my favorite vegetables to grow from seed. They are all something special and worth trying in your garden.
I love to share my ideas for nature crafts, gardening, fresh recipes, and natural beauty. Please follow me here on eBay to get some garden therapy each and every season throughout the year.
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