By Victoria Fuller
Depending on where you live you may be thinking that the outdoors and garden season is well and truly over, but this isn’t necessarily true! Where there’s a will there’s a way especially when it comes to finding things to do in the garden! Today we are going to be discussing seed harvesting, not the most riveting thing to do in the garden (it’s no slip n slide by truly what is?) but absolutely worth the time of day!
You may have a lone bell pepper or some tomatoes left on the vine that perhaps aren’t looking their best. Perhaps they’re looking a little brown, shriveled, and generally unhappy, but worry not! This is actually the perfect time for you to harvest their seeds and give them a new lease of life next season!
There are plenty of vegetable varieties that you can easily harvest seeds from such as peppers, peas, tomatoes, and green beans. You can also harvest seeds from your flowers as well! Popular varieties to harvest from include (but aren’t limited to!): sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, petunias, and marigolds!
Harvesting your seeds is incredibly easy, you simply have to remove the seeds from the plants and ferment them (this ensures they will not rot or germinate before you have a chance to plant them!). Follow these simple steps to harvest your own seeds:
Step 1: Squeeze the seeds and pulp from the plant into a mason jar, cover the mason jar with a towel to stop bugs from entering but to allow for air circulation.
Step 2: Leave the jar in a warm place overnight (perhaps on top of the refrigerator) until the contents are bubbly (this means they have fermented!). This step can take several days depending on the temperature of your house!
Step 3: Once your seeds are bubbling fill the jar ¾ full with water and give the jar a good shake, this will help the seeds to separate from the pulp.
Step 4: Any seeds that float to the top of the jar should be removed and composted (these are not the quality of seed that we are looking to hang onto for next year!). Leave the jar loosely covered for another 24 hours.
Step 5: The next day remove any more seeds that have floated to the top, then gently pour out all but around 1-inch of water, then refill the jar to the original amount and leave lightly covered for another 24 hours or so.
Step 6: Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 on repeat until eventually no more seeds float to the top and the water remains clear. (This process can take up to one week, thankfully there is no rush!).
Step 7: Use a mesh sieve to drain the remaining water from the seeds then lay them out on a paper towel or paper plate (so you can easily see when the seeds are dry!).
Step 8: After 2-3 days your seeds should be completely dry, you can use a gentle fan to speed up the process if you want to get the ball rolling!
Step 9: Now it’s time to store your seeds! Envelopes and small spice jars make the perfect containers for small seeds. You can also freeze your seeds in an airtight container for up to five years!
We hope that this article has inspired you to save your seeds! Not only is this a great pastime during the Autumn months but it also means one less thing to worry about in the Spring, win win!