If you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ll know that buying seeds can be expensive, especially if you have to buy them every year. However, you can keep the seeds from the vegetables you grow cheaply and easily, as long as you follow a few simple steps.
WARNING! If you are buying produce, you likely can’t preserve the seeds from these, as most grocery produce has been sprayed to prevent sprouting, and many of the fruits/veggies are from varieties that are sterile (the seeds don’t grow).
Each variety of vegetable has a slightly different method of preserving, and I highly recommend this guide. However there are essentially two methods; fermenting, and drying. Some seeds have a coating around them that needs to come off before they will sprout. In nature, this is done by a) passing through the digestive system of an animal, or b) the fruit/vegetable rotting on the ground. So to get the coating off, we have to do the same.
Step 1: Scoop out the seeds
Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds with the pulp. For a tomato, this will be easy, but for something firmer like a squash, you really have to dig in there.
Step 2: Ferment the seeds
(Skip only this step for the non-fermented varieties. )
Put the seeds AND PULP in a jar or bowl. Fill the bowl with warm water until it just covers the seeds and pulp. Put the jar somewhere warm for about a week, until it gets gross and scummy, and has a layer of white gunk on the top.
Step 3: Rinse off the seeds
Fermented or not, rinse off the seeds, get rid of the pulp, and make sure there is no pulp left stuck to the seeds. This can cause the seeds to mold or rot.
Step 4: Dry the seeds
Spread the seeds out on a clean dry towel, or a piece of paper towel. Separate the seeds and gently pat them dry. Leave them somewhere warm and dry for 1-2 days until they’re totally dry.
Step 5: Freeze ’em
Wrap the seeds up in a new, clean paper towel, and fold the towel up, then put it in a ziplock bag. Mark what kind of seeds are in the bag, then seal it and put it in the freezer.
The seeds should keep in the freezer for about 2 years. The great part about knowing how to do this? You can check out seeds from a Seed Library near you, plant all sorts of great things, and just return the seeds at the end of the season, with some to spare. The first time I saved a tomato, and had 20 + seeds from a single tomato, and grew 6 plants, and 100+ tomatoes the next year!
Loving the city, but longing for the farm, Melissa has made a hobby and a habit out of living sustainably, and DIYing, all while enjoying the perks of living in the big city. From Vancouver BC, she posts about making your own homestead from the smallest condo, and bringing farm living to rapid transit.
Copyright © Josephine 2015. All rights reserved.