You don’t have to depend on a nursery or Home Depot and a full wallet or purse to sustain your garden from year-to-year. Save your money and harvest seeds from plants or crops already growing there.
To achieve this you need to plan. For example, you need to grow plants and/or crops from which you can harvest seeds. That means you need to select plants and/or crops that provide the right type of seed. These would include:
· Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds not from hybrid plants.
· Not cross-pollinated seeds
· Fully ripe seeds from healthy plants.
Plants that yield heirloom seeds are ideal because they stay true to type as long as they are not planted too close to other types of plants with which they can cross-pollinate.
When starting a garden that will be used to harvest seeds, you can get heirloom seeds from a local garden center. However, the garden centers you may be dealing with could have hybrid seeds instead of heirlooms. So it may be best to get the seeds to start your garden online.
If you select the seed packages yourself, then you should notice that the packets that contain heirloom seeds would say so. If you want to use particular plants in your garden to harvest seeds, but you aren’t sure whether the seeds they offer are heirloom or hybrid, do a little research on the Internet, look up the particular plant and see what kind of seeds it offers.
To harvest seeds for vegetables, if you plant several different varieties of the same type, they most likely will cross-pollinate. This should not be a problem for self-pollinating vegetables including beans and tomatoes. However, if you want to preserve the genetic make-up of an heirloom crop don’t allow it to cross-pollinate.
Saving seeds from annuals including beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, and tomatoes are easier than saving seeds from biennial plants that include cabbages, beets, carrots, cauliflower, onions, and turnips because you have to harvest the entire biennial plant including the root and store it during the winter so that you can replant in the spring.
How To Save Seeds
There are five things to keep in mind when you harvest seeds. They include:
1. Save enough seeds. Make sure you have enough for the amount of vegetables you want to plant and grow next year. It’s always a good idea to keep more so that you’re still covered if some seeds don’t germinate or are eaten by birds or other critters.
2. Clean and dry the seeds. Wash off the seeds that you harvest and then when they are clean, leave them on a tray for several weeks to dry. The seeds have to be fully dry before you store them so they won’t rot. Some seeds including tomato and cucumber require a little more work to clean because they have to go through fermentation so that the gel that cover the seed can be removed. Other seeds like that for beans are very easy to clean. Simply remove them from their shell. If you’re lucky, they won’t need to be rinsed or cleaned.
3. Packaging the seeds. Pack the seeds in an envelope.
4. Label the seeds. Be sure to label the envelope that contains the seeds properly. Write on the envelope the type of vegetable, the name of the specific variety, the date they were packaged, and any other information you think is pertinent like how you grew the plant from which the seeds came.
5. Store the seeds. Put the packet of seeds in a cool and dry place. You should not store them where there is a lot of moisture or a drastic fluctuation of the temperature.