Now is a great time to start thinking about saving seeds for next season, which will make next year's crop an even bigger bargain. It's also one of the smartest ways to encourage an increasingly healthy and abundant garden year after year, since seeds you save from this season are naturally engineered toward your distinct climate and soil.
Different seeds have different needs (for example, tomato seeds need special processing), but here are a few basic tips to help you get started:
- Chose fully ripe, healthy, blue ribbon veggies from your garden as seed saving candidates. Save seeds from peppers that have reached their final color, squash that is fully grown, healthy, and ripe, and mature, evenly-shaped beans.
- Separate seeds from the fruit or pulp if necessary, and rinse well in a strainer. Lay the seeds out in a single layer to dry completely for two to three days. A fully dried seed should crack in half easily (discard broken seeds). Beans can be dried in their pods on the plant. Then pick, open, and drop seeds into a pouch.
- Save seeds in an envelope in a dry, cool place, well-labeled with instructions for the next season.
Use your seeds within one year for best results, and swap them with your friends and neighbors for an even more diverse garden next season.
For a plant-by-plant guide for best seed saving practices, visit the International Seed Saving Institute at SeedSave.org.