Collecting and Storing Seeds
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated April 1, 2020)
If you are looking at expanding your gardening skills, and potentially your garden as well, then you really can't go wrong with harvesting your own seeds. By knowing the process of collecting and storing seeds, you can not only save money each year, but also make some money if you sell the seeds. It's not a particularly difficult process, though it is one that takes a bit of time.
- Know your plant. Before you can begin harvesting any seeds, you need to know your plant. Learn as much as you possibly can about the plant, its anatomy, what it needs to survive, and so forth. By doing this, you will know where the seeds are located in the plant.
- Know the growing season. As you are researching your plant make sure that you also learn what the growing season is. With that information in hand, wait until near the end (within two weeks should do it) and then begin choosing which plants you will be setting aside for harvesting your seeds. When that plant has fully matured, go ahead and pick it.
- Dry it out. Tie the plants into bunches if possible, and hang them somewhere so that they can dry out. Allow the plants to sit there for about no longer than two weeks to ensure proper dryness. You can tell with some plants (such as green beans) that they are ready when you shake them and hear the seeds rattling around.
- Begin harvesting the seeds. Begin carefully removing seeds from the plant. Make sure that as you do that you do not damage the seeds too much or you may not be able to actually use the seeds for planting.
- Dry out the seeds. Lay out a paper towel, and place the seeds you have harvested on it. Make sure that they are in a single layer. Cover that layer of seeds with another paper towel, and then begin laying another layer of seeds. Repeat the process until all seeds have been laid out. Allow the seeds to completely dry out, which could take several days. After the seeds have dried out completely, choose only the ones that are clean, not discolored, and not damaged for storage.
- Store and label the seeds. Once you have chosen the seeds that you want to keep, place them into an airtight container. A good example of a container that you can use would be a medicine bottle. Label the bottle with the plant name, and when they were harvested. Store the container in a cool, dry place, and wait until your next planting season to use them.
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