Seed Saving - a Quick "How To"
As promised; We were going to discuss how to save the seeds from your vegetables to plant for the next growing season.
We have already talked about the difference in Open-Pollinated, Heirloom, and Hybrid seeds. So, if you read our last blog you will understand why we are not going to discuss saving Hybrid seeds, and for the purpose of this blog, we are going to focus solely on open-pollinated. If you remember, heirloom are simply open-pollinated seeds that have been planted along with other varieties to obtain the ‘perfect’ producing plant for your location – in truth, becoming your own personal hybrid seed – but not GMO like so many vegetables from the grocers produce section.
Anyway, the actual “how to” of this will focus on tomatoes, but we will follow up at the end with some tips for other fruits and vegetables as well.
- Tomato seeds are covered in a gel like substance – not a problem if you are eating a tomato, but to save the seeds you will need to remove this gel by fermenting the seeds. It’s not the most pleasant process but effective.
You will want to take your tomato and squeeze out the seeds into a bowl. Add water to the bowl, about the same amount as the seeds you just squashed out.
- Place the container in a warm location, but out of sunlight. The kitchen counter works fine for us, as long as it isn’t near a window.
- In about a day or two, stir the contents – this may not smell great. After a couple of more days, you will see that some seeds have collected on the bottom and some smelly gunk, some seeds, and a white moldy substance is floating on the surface. This is okay, wait just a few more days – about 4 to 5. At this point, all the “good” viable seeds have finished collecting on the bottom of your bowl.
- Carefully remove the “gunk” with a spoon. I know it smells, but this will be the end of the yucky part. You will want to rinse the remaining seeds (the ones at the bottom of the bowl). Do this several times using fresh water with each washing.
- Now, lay these seeds out on a screen (my preference – you can also use a plate). Put the screen (or plate) in a warm, dry place until fully dry. This may take a few weeks.
- Once dry, place them in an envelope and store in a cool dry place (pantry or refrigerator work great) until your next tomato season.
SEE! That wasn’t hard at all and not really time consuming in what you must physically do, but it does take time and patience. Totally Worth It!
Now, a few notes about some other seed types:
-Peppers: Remove the seeds and let dry. No need to soak.
-Cucumbers: Prepare these just as you would tomatoes – HOWEVER… just because the cucumber is ready to come off the vine and eat, doesn’t mean the seeds are mature. Let a couple of cucumbers stay on the vine a little past their prime to allow the seeds to mature.
-Squash: Like cucumbers, the seeds need a bit more time to mature, so leave a couple on the vine for seed saving. To prepare, simply rub the seeds between your fingers under running water until clean. Then lay them out to dry in the same way as everything else (screen or plate).
-Melons: These don’t have to hang out on the vine like squashes, but you clean and dry the seeds the same way.
A few extra notes:
When you bag up your bounty of seeds, make sure you label the envelope (so many seeds look alike).
All seeds have a different life span depending on their type, but tomatoes should be good for a least 5 years or more!
Happy seed saving!