It sounds so heroic to be a part of the seed saving community, and it is!! Not only are you gathering food from your land, but then you are saving the seeds that food produces to continue the process of sowing and reaping. This cycle is immensely practical and forces us to respect and honor the circle of life, set in place, by our Creator.
When you collect seeds from your property, versus buying from another distributer, you are using seeds that have adapted and proven successful in your microclimate. Not only are you saving money, but you are typically saving a higher quality genetic strain for your garden, food forest, or landscaping needs.
There are some amazing seed companies (Victory Seeds, Terroir Seeds, and more…) from which a person can get started, but after your initial planting, it is best (for both your land and your wallet) to start saving YOUR own seeds! I love the Seed Savers Exchange company which has seeds in your region available for sale, but also encourages and teaches individuals to save their seeds.
The following is a list of some of the seeds we are saving this season and a quick description of how we are doing it…
Butternut Squash, Zucchini, Spaghetti Squash & Winter Squash: These are super easy seeds to save, because when you cook squash the seeds are usually scraped out anyway! Therefore we can still eat the squash we save our seeds from. After the seeds are scraped out, separate the seeds from the meat of the squash.Then let them dry (this can take a few days or even a week) and then store in a dry, labeled container for spring planting 🙂
Cilantro: As cilantro goes to seed it turns into coriander. So when the plant has finished producing cilantro and started producing coriander, you can just pull the little coriander bulbs and place them in a container for storage (and use some for your spice cabinet) :).
Early Frosty Peas & Scarlet Runner Beans: Let the seed pods dry completely and then open them up and save the seeds/beans inside. Store in a dry, safe and labeled container.
Sunflower Seeds: Let the flower fully mature and as it starts to fade cut the head of the flower off a few inches from the top and remove the seeds from the center of the flower with strong fingers and/or the help of a fork.
Corn: Corn takes a bit of time to save, correctly. It requires letting some of the corn stay on the stalk until the husks begin to dry out or turn brown. At this point pull open the husks and leave them open to hang upside down and dry. Once the corn has dried (this can take months) scrape off the shriveled kernels and store in a dry container.
Tomatoes: These seeds should be separated from the pulp and put into a paper towel. Then some moisture should be added to the paper towel for a slight fermentation process. Let the seeds and paper towel dry completely, then fold and put into a safe, dry container and store in a cool, dark place.
Arugula, Basil & Lettuce: Allow these greens to go to seed and then collect the seed buds they produce. “Going to seed” will be a long stalk of little seed heads growing up the center of the plant.
Peppers: (Bell Peppers & Hot peppers) For pepper seeds it is best to let some of your peppers stay on the plant until they get over ripe or begin to shrivel, Then scoop out the seeds and let them dry completely, before storing.
Watermelon: Similar to Squash seeds, these just need to be removed from the pulp, washed, dried, and placed in a dry storage container.
*Special tip: We love to save the little “dry packs” or “freshness packs” that come in our protein powders, or other packaged food goods, to keep our seeds dry. Just throw a pack in the seed saving container and place in your garden storage. 🙂
*Best storage containers: We love using glass mason jars or glass jars we have saved and washed from various foods. However, we also save some of our supplement/vitamin containers as a way to recycle and reuse containers.
For more resources on saving seeds you can check out these sites…