Seed saving is precisely that. Gathering seed saves money for the next planting season, and also saves genetic strains that may have originated in family gardens.
Gardeners can save seeds from just about anything that produces fruit or seeds. Open- or self-pollinated plants like beans, lettuce, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes are among the best, since their offspring will be the most dependable.
Annuals are most commonly used because they’re reliable about producing seeds.
Hybrids are the plant by-products of two different varieties and combine the qualities of both. Hybrids are valued for their disease resistance, but are not stable enough for seed saving.
Heirlooms, meanwhile, are open-pollinated varieties that either have a family or local history or that have been around for 50 or more years.
Plan ahead. Determine which open-pollinated edibles you want in your garden or on your dining table, and then learn their growing cycles.
Determine as they develop which are the healthiest and save them as the mother plants. Allow those to ripen beyond their normal harvest period.
Lettuce and bean seeds can be removed from the plants once they are dry and hard. Store seeds in tightly sealed glass containers in a cool, dark location.
“Make sure that you label seeds with the type of seed and date,” said Weston Miller, a horticulturist.
“A small packet of silica desiccant or powered milk in the jar can help to remove moisture and keep the seeds dry.
“The refrigerator or freezer is also a good place for storing seeds that you collect and also seeds that you buy. Put small seeds in envelopes and label them. Place the envelopes in sealable freezer bags.”