Seed Saving

Saving your own seeds

Saving your own seeds is quite easy and helps save money too!  The best seeds to save are the ones from heirloom plants; seeds that have adapted to this environment which have been handed down from one generation to the next.  Unfortunately, hybrid seeds may not reproduce well and may not produce the same variety of plants that you can buy.

image of a woman holding a planted box that says "seedlings" with young sprouting plants growing inside

There are generally two types of seeds you will come across in your garden, dry seeds and wet seeds. Dry seeds are much easier to harvest; start off with them as it is an easier task.  They simply need to be dry, not cleaned and separated from wet vegetable matter. Some wet seeds, such as tomatoes, require a fermentation period to break down a coating on the seed that prevents them from germinating inside the moist, nutrient rich tomato.

The easiest way to collect your tomato seeds is to throw your chosen tomatoes into a large Tupperware with soil (separate containers for each variety) and leave it outside to begin fermentation. After a few days, store them in your freezer or simply leave them somewhere safe outside to freeze overwinter. When spring rolls around, thaw and mix up the seedy tomato soil mixture and spread it over a tray of soil roughly 3-5cm deep. Cover with another centimeter of soil and wait for all of the seedlings to pop up. You will need to thin them out as this technique will likely get you hundreds of tomato seedlings per tomato. Choose the healthiest for yourself and give some to your fellow gardeners!

These general seed saving tips are provided by planetgreen

  • Save seeds from the best fruit/vegetable ripened from the healthiest plant
  • Keep your varieties separate – label them clearly
  • Clean the seeds by rinsing off any vegetable or fruit matter and dry them completely
  • Do not pick eggplants, cucumbers, squash for seeds until they are over ripened
  • Beans and peas can dry in their pods – you should be able to hear them rattle when shaken
  • For dill, lettuce or spinach, allow the plants to go to seed and cut off the seed head
  • Once fully dried, store the seeds in well marked containers and in a cool dry place
  • Save extra seeds to swap with your gardening friends or at the community garden spring seed exchange

 

Visit the Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook to learn how to breed your own vegetable varieties, reproduce existing seed varieties, and save free seeds from your garden.

image of young sprouting plants in dirt