One of the most rewarding experiences in gardening can come from harvesting your own seeds for the next planting season. For some reason though, many people overlook this fun, and sometimes important step in gardening. Usually the stated reason is that the whole process is too difficult, or too time consuming. Well harvesting seeds, while occasionally a little time consuming, isn't that difficult.
- Wait for the seeds to be ready. The biggest step in harvesting seeds is learning to wait for the seeds to be ready. This is often one of the most time consuming parts of the whole process. The reason for this is plants will typically have their own time frame for producing the seeds, and there is little that you can do to speed it up.
- Gather the seeds. Once the seeds, or seed pods, begin showing that they are ripe it is time to begin harvesting. The way that you usually tell a seed pod is about ready for harvesting is when the stem begins to turn brown, and the seed head is just beginning to open up. When you see this, snip off the seed pod and place it into a brown paper bag. Label the bag so that you know what kind of seed is in it, and set it aside for drying.
- Dry your seeds. Place the bags that contain your harvested seeds into a dry, cool location for two to three weeks. This will give the seeds enough time to properly dry out. Carefully shake the bags to get the seeds out of their pods.
- Separate your seeds. Get a shallow bowl or container that is about one to two inches deep, and then line it with paper. Get a strainer or sieve that will barely allow the seeds to pass through, and empty the contents of a bag into it. Gently shake the strainer into the container, and watch the seeds fall through.
- Store the seeds for later. Place the harvested and separated seeds into a jar, and label it. Simply place the jar in your refrigerator, or some other cool place, and wait to plant them. Make sure that the location is cool, but not cold. It being cool will help prevent the seeds from fully developing, while if the temperature is too cold, you could potentially damage the seeds.
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