Did you happen to have a great harvest year? All you can think of now is how to preserve this happy moment and repeat it again next year. Your garden is flourishing, but you need a plan for next year too.
Saving seeds is a great option for you to repeat history next year and enjoy your produce at low cost. It may seem complicated, but this process requires just a bit of patience, dedication, little effort and love.
Choose your seeds wisely, pick the suitable ones, clean them well, and find a dry place for them to survive. You will end up rich in any sense. No money will be spent on buying expensive seeds and great amounts of produce will be growing in your garden. Pick your favorite ones and let’s get started!
Saving seeds is not something that our grandfathers invented. It has been going on ever since we started building homes, living in one single place, and stopped being nomads.
Then people started growing their own food, but realized that they need to pass on the seeds to the following generations so that they can also enjoy the produce. Nowadays, you can buy seeds anywhere you want, but back in the past, that was unimaginable.
Commercial seeds first appeared at the end of World War II and it has since been a great business that costs money. That’s why you need to save your favorite garden seeds at the end of the season so that you can enjoy them again next year.
What you need to know before you get started
Types of seeds are truly important. Not all of them can be saved for next year. Therefore, make sure your seeds are one of these types:
- Heirloom and open-pollinated (not from hybrid plants)
- Not cross-pollinated
- Annuals (beans, squash, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers)
- Fully ripe and healthy
If you bought the seeds previously, they usually have the label saying whether they are heirlooms so that you know how to proceed. Just make sure the plants haven’t cross-pollinated in the meantime (this might happen to squash and cucumbers).
How to save seeds for next year
- Save the right amount of seeds
You need to make a plan of the amount of vegetables you want for next year. Also, always bear in mind that you need to have some extra seeds just in case. Some of the seeds might not germinate or they may be eaten by chipmunks or birds. It will become easier once you’ve tried this and then you will now for next time.
- First clean and then dry the seeds
Another important factor for the seeds to stay healthy is their maintenance. Seeds need thorough cleaning. Wash off residues that might have been left on vegetables, such as the stringy parts on pumpkins or squash. After the thorough cleaning, seeds need to be dried.
Use a tray to lay them out. The drying process lasts for a couple of weeks and it depends on the type and size of the seeds. We can help you with a few examples of vegetables. For instance, tomato and cucumber seeds need a lot of work to dry out. Bean seeds, on the other hand, are simpler to prepare because you just remove them from the shell and no cleaning is required.
Important note: Be patient and let the seeds dry completely before you store them because otherwise they will most probably rot.
- Pack the seeds
If you keep the seed packets from the previous year when you bought them, you don’t have to worry about this one. Those packages are good because they have planting instructions on them and you can easily see the type of seed you are dealing with. If you didn’t save them, you need to make new ones.
However, the process is not difficult at all. You just need envelopes instead of using the packages. If you don’t have envelopes, you can use jars or plastic containers as well. The safest option is to put them in envelopes and then put them in a jar to avoid pests.
- Label your seeds
This is a good organizational tip for all the gardeners who think their memory skills are perfect. Your memory might serve you well, but you risk forgetting even one tiny bit of information that can stop you from saving the right type of seed.
There is great chance you will forget a certain type of seed. That’s why you will get organized and write down some things. These include: date of packing the seeds, type of vegetable, name of specific variety, and all the other information about planting that you might forget until next spring.
- Storage: cool and dry place
You’ve finally came to the last step, which is the one that you should think of first, because it is of utmost importance. There is no point in doing everything to save the seeds when you realize that you don’t have the place to keep them in.
When you are done with packing the seeds, prepare a cool and dry spot for them. Be careful not to put them in a place where there is great moisture or temperature fluctuations, as the seeds may become moldy. They might not be able to germinate under these conditions.
You are all set to start now! Good luck keeping your seeds alive for next year!