12 Random Things to Know About Saving Seeds
- Let cucumbers get over ripe, even turn yellow, before saving the seeds.
- Know that veggies can only cross with their same species. So a zucchini might cross with a pumpkin, both are C. pepo, but not with a hubbard squash, C. moschata. More on that here.
- Tomatoes can cross pollinate, but it is much less likely than squash. The same holds true for their relatives, eggplants and peppers. These plants usually provide their own pollination.
- Beans and peas self-pollinate as the flowers open up. Let the seeds inside dry, and you are good to go.
- The seeds found in the first tomato on the plant are the same as the last tomato. So don't worry about trying to keep the best one for its seeds.
- Know that parsnips and carrots are perennial plants, and will only provide you with seeds the next year if they survive your winter. We're still pulling out parsnips from this experiment.
- Many people freeze seeds, but we don't. Once they are dry, we just store in a container that allows for air-flow, like a plain envelope. This also keeps them in the dark. We use a room that is only minimally heated.
- If you have a critter problem like mice, you will need to store in a metal or glass container. In this case, add a silica desiccant packet to keep your seeds dry. You can get them fairly cheap online. You can also use rice or powdered milk, just keep an eye on it.
- Be sure to date your seeds. Most seeds will last for years. Here's a list of the very minimum storage times. Many gardeners have successfully used seeds much older. Here's our take.
- As seeds age, their germination rate lowers. This just means that they may not all sprout as they would if they were only from last year. If you have an abundance, you can check their germination rate yourself. Simply place 10 or more seeds in a paper towel or napkin, and keep it warm and moist. See how many seeds sprout. If the percentage is low, plant more than you would normally.
- You can get seeds on the cheap from the grocery store. Dry beans and un-roasted peanuts are two examples. Buy them once and you'll have seeds forever.
- Most commercial squash is grown in large fields, so there is less chance of cross pollination than you would have in your garden. We suggest you buy a winter type squash, and remove the seeds before cooking. This is another cheap way to get a lot of seeds. We buy Fenugreek seeds in bulk for sprouting, and then use some of those seeds in the garden.
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