Saving seeds

Here’s something fun to do: if you have grown legumes— like pole beans or sweet peas—you can save the seeds and plant them next year! Just cut off the pods and store them somewhere cool and dry until they dry out. Then, pop them open and shake out the seeds (the beans or peas). Keep these in a cool, dry location for the winter, then plant them next spring to enjoy free vegetables!

There are plenty of vegetables and flowers with seeds that you can save to plant the next year. Peas, beans, lettuce, parsley, peppers, marigolds, calendula, cosmos, dill and fennel have seeds that are usually true to type and easy to save. When choosing seeds to save, ensure that you select plants that have been healthy and productive – you don’t want to save the seeds of a weak plant that has not thrived, after all. Dry the seeds very well before storing them, and use them the next year, as some seeds have a very short shelf-life.

The seeds of tomatoes, cucumbers and some melons, need to be cleaned of all pulp by soaking them in water for a few days before washing and drying them for use the next year. They are also more complicated to save because plants can cross pollinate if you or your neighbor grow more than one variety of tomato or melon, for example. A cross-pollinated seed might develop into a new, super-tasty variety of melon, but it might also be a dud, so sometimes it is better to buy seeds if you cannot be sure exactly what you are putting time and effort into growing.