How to Keep Seeds to Use Next Year

The end of the summer is the best time to harvest and keep seeds for the next growing season.

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How to Keep Seeds to Use Next Year | The end of the summer is the best time to harvest and keep seeds for the next growing season.

Late summer is the best time to begin planning next year’s garden especially if you have had a successful harvest. Most people begin by looking over seed catalogs to decide which tomato or pepper variety will grow best.

But why buy new seeds when you already have an abundance in your own garden?  Using seeds from your plants connects you to the earth’s natural cycles and helps preserve heirloom varieties according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Choose Which Seeds to Save
Getting started is easy to do but the Almanac recommends that beginners start with vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and peas.  Just save seeds from open-pollinated varieties so that the ones you save will grow the same plants next year. Be careful not to save seeds from plants that are too close to other types of crops or they could be cross-pollinated and the seeds may result in inferior plants.

The University of Minnesota Extension offers quick facts and growing guides for home gardeners. The experts caution that seeds from biennial crops like carrots and beets are harder to save since these plants require two growing seasons to produce viable seeds.

Avoid saving seeds from plants that have separate male and female flowers like corn or crops that grow on vines because they are likely to cross pollinate. Hold unto those seed catalogs and buy those seeds from a reputable company or local nursery.

Make sure that you pick seeds to save from the healthiest and best-tasting plants to save. So choose now while you are still harvesting the summer’s bounty of vegetables and fruits.  

How to Save Seeds
How you prepare and store your seeds will determine their viability according to Life Hacker. While seeds do not last forever, some can actually last 10 years if properly preserved.

To make your seeds last longer, make sure they are kept dry because heat and humidity will make it less likely that the seeds will germinate. So, dry your seeds on paper towels before putting them into storage. You can store seeds in tightly sealed glass jars, old cleaned medicine bottles, or even Ziplock bags.

The best place to store your seeds is in a cool dry place like your refrigerator but be careful not to freeze them or they will not germinate. As long as seeds are kept cool and dry, they should be viable.

Before you plant your garden next Spring, remove your seeds from storage and let them warm up before germinating them in your home or planting them in your garden. Of course, not all saved seeds – just like those purchased in seed packets – will not germinate but enough will to make your garden bloom.

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