Fall Harvest and Seed Saving Tips
Late summer is a wonderful time of year to share some of your prized veggies with your friends and brag a bit about your growing skills in the garden. We know how to enjoy harvest time, but we often miss out on a secondary harvest from which we can reap many rewards.
Save your seeds!
Even if you didn’t garden this year, you can save seeds from the foods you eat.
Starting out is simple and only requires some time, experimentation, and a few household items.
Benefits of Saving Seeds
- Saving the cost of seeds for the next growing cycle
- Knowing the source of your seed and its production conditions
- Self-reliance and increased confidence
- Fascination with the history of seeds! Warning, it can become an obsession.
- Breeding and naming your own, localized varieties
- Refining varieties that are adapted to your local environment
Gathering Familiar Seeds
Start by gathering seeds from organic food you have grown yourself. You might want to try pepper, squash, fermented tomatoes, beans, or peas. Organic foods have a better chance of staying truer to the original vegetable or fruit. You can also purchase food from local farmers that use open-pollinated, heirloom, vegetable seed. However, even if you have a hybrid in your seed collection, you can still arrive at something unique and valuable by continuing to select for the best qualities.
Treating the Seeds
Next, treat the seeds. Most seeds just need to be left to dry for a few days. Remove any seeds that seem damaged or affected by mold or bacteria.
Note: Tomatoes need to be submerged in water for about three days until the gelatinous coating ferments off. Then, dry the seeds on a paper towel. This is one of the more “science lab” types of seeds to be saved.
Labeling and Storing the Seeds
Finally, label and store your seeds. Once the seeds are dry, you can store them for future use. Try labeling seeds with their type, variety, date they were saved, and source.
Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place. Some seed savers dry silica packets from consumer goods in the oven to reactivate them. These packets can be placed in envelopes, tins, and jars with the seeds. I reuse envelopes from mailings and store my seeds in tins organized by the next season I’ll start sowing them.
To learn more about seed saving, check out Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth.
Your seeds are now waiting for their chance to shine in your garden!