Our gardens produce thousands of seeds each season. You can save money and nurture flowers for the future by collecting and saving seeds. If we didn’t save seeds, we wouldn’t have the many wonderful heirloom varieties we enjoy today.
You can save seeds from all kinds of plants. Annual flowers are easy for beginners since they produce a lot of seeds. Vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are good candidates for edible plants.
Start by harvesting from your best plants. Choose disease-free plants with qualities you like; for example, the best flavored vegetable or the most beautiful flower.
Always harvest mature seed. Learning when seeds are ripe enough to collect is a lot like picking tomatoes: experience will teach you.
When flowers begin to fade, keep an eye on the forming seeds. Mature seeds usually are brown or dark in color. Plants with pods such as beans are mature when the pods are brown and dry. Seeds also will require a drying process, which can take a week or more, in a protected area that has good air circulation. Keep your saved seeds in an envelope or lidded jars, marked with the variety name and the date. Store in a cool, dry place until planting time.
There are two ways to collecting seed: the dry method (used for most flowering plants) and the wet method (for fleshy type fruits such as tomatoes or melons). To learn more, visit our website at www.cceoneida.com.
Many local resources also are available to help you. Consider being a part of a seed exchange where you can share seeds with others. Many libraries, such as the Kirkland Town Library, now offer seed exchanges, offering heirloom, locally saved seed. Preserve your local garden heritage through seed saving.
Rosanne Loparco is a master gardener volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Look for more gardening tips in the Times Telegram or online at www.cceoneida.com.