Gardening: How to save vegetable seeds for next year – The Associated Press — en Español

Many of the vegetables we grow in our gardens produce seeds, which, if harvested and stored correctly, have the potential to grace us with free plants. And late summer is the perfect time in order to start collecting them.

A few notes: Make sure the vegetation from which you’re collecting seeds are heirloom, or open-pollinated, varieties. These are plant life in their original forms whose seed products will produce plants along with the same qualities as their parent.

Hybridized varieties, on the other hand, are created by breeding two or more different types to capture the best qualities of each. Attempting in order to grow seed collected from hybrids will yield a harvest of disappointment, as the resulting plants will not have the expected attributes but rather carry the traits associated with only one of the parents — plus there’s no way to know what that will be. For this reason, it’s best not to develop seeds through supermarket produce.


Many plants become cross-pollinated in the garden when pollinators, other insects, animals and wind transfer pollen from one plant to another. To ensure the seeds you collect will grow into plants that match their parent, different varieties of the same crop should be kept anywhere from 100 feet to a mile apart, depending on climate, weather and other variables. This is often impractical, if not impossible, in the home garden.

To avoid cross-pollination surprises, plant just one variety associated with the category of plants from which you plan in order to harvest seeds. If you want to save tomato seeds, for example , grow only one type of tomato in your garden.

If that feels too limiting, go ahead and experiment, knowing that even if cross-pollinated, both parents are heirloom varieties you selected and planted. They’ll probably be fine even if they’re not really what a person expect.

Store all seed products in a cool, dry place in the covered glass jar or paper envelope away through ripening fruit, which would affect seed germination. The temporary addition of a silica gel packet to the particular jar will remove any remaining moisture, but take it out after a couple of days to avoid over-drying.

Here’s how to collect and conserve seeds from the most common homegrown crops.


At the end of the growing season, lettuce will certainly bolt, or even send up a flower stalk that will develop seed heads reminiscent of dandelion puffs. When the particular puffs are dry, remove the entire stem, place it into a paper bag, fold over the top and shake. The seed products will disengage from your flower and fall to the bottom of the handbag.



Parsley will be a biennial plant with a two-year life cycle that will produces only edible foliage in its first year and leaves and flowers in its second. Allow those flowers to remain on second-year vegetation until they become brown and brittle. Cut them off the plant and store all of them in the paper bag to dry completely with regard to a couple of weeks. When you remove them from the handbag, rub the particular flowers between your fingers to separate the seed, then blow away the lightweight dry out plant matter and discard.


Basil seeds are usually tiny, so separating them from the particular small flower petals plus chaff can be tedious. When plants bolt at the end of the time of year, allow plants to remain until they fade completely. Clip them off and place all of them in a mesh sieve or colander, then use your fingers to rub them against the bottom from the sieve.



These biennial plant life produce seeds only in their second 12 months, after the period associated with vernalization, or cold storage. In areas with cold winters, simply leave plants in the ground more than winter.

In warm climates, you’ll have in order to create “winter” indoors: At the end of the first season, cut the leaves down to 2 inches, carefully dig up roots, and store them in a refrigerator or cool cellar over winter. Replant them outdoors the following spring.

When the leaves of second-year beet vegetation turn brownish, remove the seeds stalk through the top of the plant make it in a paper bag. Store inside a cool, dry place regarding at least two weeks, then give the handbag a good tremble to split up the particular seeds. Pour them onto a plate, then strike on them to separate the chaff.


Allow second-year carrot blossoms to dried out on the particular plant, clip them away, and dry them further in a paper bag intended for a week or two. Shake the bag well and pour seeds out onto a plate, whack on them to separate the particular chaff.


Select the nicest-looking pepper from your healthiest plant and allow it to stay on the plant till it is overripe and wrinkled. Slice it in half and take away the seed products, discarding any kind of that are discolored or otherwise undesirable. Spread seeds in a single layer on paper towels and permit all of them to dried out in the warm spot away from direct sunlight. Toss the seeds occasionally to ensure even drying, which ought to take about a 7 days.


Allow an eggplant to over-ripen on the particular plant until it becomes hard and old and wrinkly, and loses its shine and color. Slice this open, eliminate its seed products and place them in a bowl of water. Agitate the water with your hands to split up seed from any flesh that is adhered to them. Strain, then pat seeds dry with a towel plus spread upon a towel or screen to dry, tossing every day for upward to a month until completely dry.



Because green beans produce an ongoing harvest throughout the season, enjoy the first flush or 2, then leave developing pods on 1 plant till they are completely dried and brown. You’ll know they’re ready whenever they play like maracas. Cut the pods off the plant, location them in a cool, dark place to dried out further, then remove the particular seeds. Discard any that appear stained or damaged, and spread the rest on a towel for the few times to harden.


There are two ways to save tomato seeds — the right way plus the easy way. Full disclosure: I like it simple, and I’ve succeeded with the shortcut. Your results may vary.

Start by cutting a tomato within half, after that squeeze out there its seed products and pulp over the bowl.

Fermentation improves germination rates and kills some seed-borne pathogens that could sicken plants. To ferment seeds:

1 . Place a cover slightly askew over the bowl plus allow the particular seeds in order to sit within their juices undisturbed for three days.

two. Pour the bowl’s contents, which may be covered with a white film, in to a larger container and add drinking water equal to at least 3 times the particular seeds’ volume.

3. Agitate the water with your own hand plus pour away from the liquid. You’ll notice that most of the seeds will have sunk in order to the bottom part of the container; they are the particular viable seed products.

Any that will float are duds, so pour all of them out with the juice, pulp and water. Repeat the rinsing process two more times.

To make sure pathogens are killed, soak seed for 30 minutes in a 90% water, 10% bleach solution, then rinse very well. Spread seeds on a towel and allow to dry for about a week, tossing occasionally.

Or, you can simply allow the whole mess associated with seeds plus pulp to dry on the plate in the open air for about a week, then scrape or pick from the seed products.


Permit your chosen fruits to become overgrown, wrinkled and dry upon the plant. Remove it, slice this open plus scoop away its seeds. If desired, follow the tomato fermentation process above. You will need to add a bit of drinking water towards the first step because there won’t be any kind of juice or even pulp within the container.


Jessica Damiano writes regular gardening columns for The Associated Press. Her Horticulture Calendar was named a winner in the 2021 Garden Communicators International Media Awards. Her Weekly Dirt Newsletter won the Society of Professional Journalists PCLI 2021 Media Award. Sign up here for weekly gardening tips and advice.

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