Upon surfing the web, I happened to stumble upon a great KSL news article written by some of my Utah State University Extension and University of Idaho Extension colleagues on collecting and storing garden seeds. This article was really informative because it gave detailed information on how to prepare and treat seeds from different types of garden plants. As a bonus, the authors did a fantastic job of describing the difference between hybrid and open pollinated plants. I dissected out some highlights on seed collecting and storing below, but if you plan to try your own hand at it, I highly suggest you read the full article*. Thanks Taun, Dan, and Brian for sharing your expertise!
- Seed Collecting – Collect seeds from open pollinated varieties. Heirloom varieties are open pollinated. Offspring grown from seeds collected from a hybrid variety will likely not exhibit the same characteristics as the parent plant. Corn and cucurbits (squash, pumpkin, zucchini, gourds, watermelon, cucumber, melons) hybridize freely (cross pollinate with closely related species) so offspring grown from seed saved from these garden plants will likely exhibit different traits than the parent plant (do not grow back true to type). Hybrid seed are identified by “F-1”, “F-1 hybrid”, or “hybrid” on the seed packet or in its description in the seed catalog.
- Seed Collecting – As a general rule, harvest seeds from fully mature (but not rotten) fruit. Seeds should be separated from pulp and allowed to air dry for several days in a well ventilated location out of direct sunlight. The article gives detailed information on collecting seed from tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and legumes (beans and peas).
- Seed Collecting – Seed is difficult or impractical to collect from certain garden plants such as corn, cucurbits, carrots, beets, onions, and brassica family members (rutabaga and turnips – edible roots), (kohlrabi – edible stem), (cabbage and collard greens – edible leaves), (cauliflower and broccoli – edible premature flowers), and (Brussel sprouts – edible buds). Read the article for more information on collecting seeds from these garden plants.
- Seed Storing – Store cleaned and dried seeds in a paper envelope or plastic bag and do not forget to label them with the variety name and year collected. Seeds store best at cooler temperatures (35-45°F) and low humidity. Because the air inside your refrigerator is humid, you will need to place the seeds in a well-sealed (tight rubber seal) canning jar (like a mason jar) to keep your seeds viable (prevent them from rotting) if you plan to store them in the fridge.
- Seed Storing – You can also stash your seeds in the freezer, but the seeds must be in an airtight container to prevent moisture from coming in contact with the seeds.
*In case the link to the full article is removed or relocated, it was originally accessed at KSL.com, the title of the article is ‘Collecting and Storing Seeds from Your Garden’ written by Taun Beddes, Dan Drost, and Brian McClain – published December 1, 2012.