Seed Saving, Preparing for Next Year’s Garden

Save some money by saving your own seeds from flowers and plants in your garden.

My garden has struggled along this year. I have seen quite a few plants go to seed quickly this year instead of producing for me. While having plants go to seed isn’t something I want to happen, when it does I try to take advantage of those seeds and save them to plant the next year in our garden.

How to Seed Save

Seed Saving, Method

My chive plant always produces these lovely purple flowers. The flowers are great to use in salads for a nice onion/garlic flavor and to add color. But when the flowers go to see I go about collecting the seeds to save.

Onion Seed Head

To collect the seeds I have changed my methods over the past few years. I used to shake the seeds into my hand and then place them into a bag and label. But sometimes the seeds would be scattered by the wind and I would get plants springing up in the spring where I would rather not have them.

Chive Seeds in Bag

The method I use now saves me a step and keep the seeds from scattering. I just place the seed head into a zipper bag. Zip it  as far closed as I can and then give the head a shake or two. The seeds fall out and into the bag and not onto the ground.

Seeds Saved In Bag

I usually don’t store them in the zipper bags but I place the seeds into envelopes labeled with the year collected and the type of seeds. I then store them in the refrigerator until I am ready to use them the next year. This method works well with any plants that produce seed heads.

Carrot Seeds

Seed Saving, Carrots

I wanted to give seed saving a try for carrots. But with carrots you don’t get any seeds until the second year. So I planted my carrots but when I harvested them in the fall, I left a few in over the winter. When spring came the carrots began to grow again. I guess I missed a few carrots when I harvested them, I ended up leaving in about 6 instead of just one or two. The carrots grew and then produced flowers. These flowers eventually turned into flower heads full of seeds. I only harvested two flowers but now I have enough seeds for probably the next 5 years. So my experiment really paid off.

Pansy Seeds

Seed Saving, Flowers

To save seeds off of the flowers in your garden let the flowers die off and then let the seed pod that forms dry a little. Just as it starts to burst open to distribute the seeds collect them into a bag. I have had good luck with Pansies, Snap Dragons, and quite a few other flowers as well. I have collected seeds from Hostas too.

Flower Seed Pod

Pea Pod Dried

Seed Saving, Peas and Beans

With beans and peas you want to leave a pea or bean on the plant and let them dry. Once the pod is dry you can then remove them from the plant and remove the seeds from the pod to save them for next year. Be sure to mark on each of the envelopes what kind of peas or beans seeds that are in the envelope. I grow both bush beans and peas but I also grow the pole type too, so I would hate to mix them up.

Dried Peas in Pod

Seed Saving, Tomatoes and Peppers

Seed Saving Tomatoes

For peppers and tomatoes, I just open up the vegetable, remove the seeds and then place the seeds on a paper towel. I let them dry and take the dried seeds and store them in the refrigerator. The tomato seeds do tend to stick to the paper towel so I just try to peel them off as best I can. Usually I only need to save seeds out of one tomato, of each kind I grow, since there are so many seeds in each one.

Seed saving does take a little time and good timing but if you tend to grow the same type of plants each year saving seeds could save you some money. If you haven’t tried growing plants from seeds before check out my mini greenhouse post for an inexpensive way to start seeds at home. This year we started all of our own vegetables and flowers from seeds we had saved.

Have you ever tried to save seeds before?

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23 thoughts on “Seed Saving, Preparing for Next Year’s Garden”

    1. My kids are good about helping me with the seed saving. The tomato seeds are the most tedious to save. I purchased some heirloom seeds a few years ago and since we seed save each year I haven’t had to purchase any more which is really nice.

  1. What a great idea! While it does sound like a bit of work (and luck), you know exactly how the seeds were treated. That’s a huge plus these days. Not to mention saving a bit of money.

  2. One trick to saving tomatoe seeds is to let them ferment slightly in a jar then wash them in a fine strainer let them dry on wax paper for easy removal….

  3. I collect all my seeds…I also have them in envelopes
    the zip bag wow what a great idea and to keep them in the fridge .Thanks Shelley

  4. Each of you can pat yourself on the back for me, please. Why, well cause I’M learning from each of you. Thank you very much.

  5. I have learned over the years that there are quite a few Flowers that re-seed I have ten different flowers seeds I have collected. I store the seeds in my used prescription bottles, using the labels from Tupperware that I no longer use.

    1. As far as I know, most corn we buy is GMO (Genetically Modified), if you want to grow corn, start out buying some Heritage kernels and save them from there.

  6. Wow i imply love this post… my spring onion has just bolted to seed so now i will harvest some seeds to plant thank you for this most informative and helpfull post will share this on my socials
    Happy Gardening

    1. Easy no fuss way to save some seeds.
      Tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and other fleshy fruits: Scoop seeds into a cup, bowl, jar, etc. Add water, 1 or 2 inches. Cover container with plastic wrap and leave until a white cream forms on top of water. Pour off cream and water and rinse with clean water until no fruit remains. Put seeds on a saucer or foam meat tray and dry for about a week. Package in zip lock bag, pill bottle or jar.
      Seeds with no fleshy residue like beans, peppers, watermelon, etc., just dry and package.

  7. Really nice post, but I have a few things to suggest. Though one large tomato will give you many seeds enough for years, consider collecting seeds from tomatoes from a few different plants (of the same variety of course) to improve your genetic diversity and strength of your plants. Remember to only select seeds from the best plants and best produce, since that will help increase the odds that your plants will survive. If you have extra, give a few to your family, friends, and neighbors.

    Another thing to do when you have way too many seeds is to look for seed exchanges. At seed exchanges, seed collectors will be trading seeds. It is a great opportunity to try need varieties or get restocks of seeds that your family really like. Some areas have seed libraries, which can help you get started with heirlooms. Often their seeds are free, but based on the idea that after your harvest, you will donate some back for others.

    Also try keeping the seeds in the freezer to help improve viability. Don’t worry most if not all seeds are used to the idea of hibernating, just give them a little time to come to room temperature before planting. The freezer, of course, is colder, but also used less than your refrigerator.

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