Sometimes the most obvious things can completely escape your notice. That's what seed saving was for me. I always knew the food I was eating came from a seed, and I knew more seeds were inside said food, but I'd never put it together until I saw a friend cutting seeds from her vegetables and keeping them to replant later. Why had it never occurred to me? Now it's just what I do! It's habit forming and it's easier than you might think.
What You Need
Vegetables. I use the ones I cook with and de-seed them before I store them.
A chopping board
A sharp knife
Sheets of newspaper for drying and holding the seeds
A marker for marking
Envelopes to hold the seeds when they're clean and dry.
1. Chose your vegetables. You can save and plant the seeds from most vegetables but you might have more success with some than others. Some supermarket varieties are hybrids and have less or sterile seeds and while they may grow they may not fruit, but it's always fun to try. Using 'heirloom' or organic vegetables generally means they will grow and fruit more abundantly. Plus you're helping protect the species into the future!
2. Cut the vegetables as you would normally to expose the seeds. This will vary depending what vegetable you're using but generally topping and/or tailing it and cutting it in half should get the job done.
3. Extract the seeds by either scraping, plucking or squeezing. Again, this will depend on the vegetable and for me half the fun is figuring it out.
4. Clean the seeds. It's pretty important to get the seeds as clean as you can, the flesh around the seeds protects them and can stop them germinating. You can rinse the seeds and gently rub them to get rid of the flesh at this stage but I think it's easier to do it when they've dried out.
5. To dry the seeds set them on a sheet of newspaper and spread them out. Set the paper in a warm dry place and leave them for at least a couple of hours. I usually leave them for a day to make sure they are completely dry. You might want to mark on the sheet of newspaper what the seeds are just in case you forget.
6. Label to envelopes with the seed types and if you think your collection could get big you might want to add a date.
7. Once the seeds have dried completely put them in their envelopes, seal it and keep them in a dry place until you're ready to grow them, swap them or gift them!
Some vegetables are more difficult to collect and clean seeds from but these steps are pretty universal. The main thing is to make sure that they're clean and dry before you store them.
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(Images: Sarah Starkey)