Seed Saving From Your Garden

Now that the growing season has officially begun and we are in full swing of gardening season, we all watch hopeful and excited as the peas, rhubarb, strawberries, and asparagus finish their last rounds of harvesting. And summer’s incredible bounty begin to grow in the spring rain, warming sun, and rising temperatures. Next year seems so far away, but how exciting and interesting would it be to be able to prepare your garden for next year, by saving this years seeds to be planted right back in for next spring and summer? Not only will it save you money on seed purchases but also “by selecting seeds from just the healthiest plants, you will overtime select for and create a special sub-variety of crops that will especially adapt to your backyard’s climate and soil.” Sounds like a lot of work huh? Not necessarily…

A Few Things to Remember:

  • Don’t waste your time on hybrid varieties. They will be labeled on the seed packet as hybrid or F1 hybrid.
  • Stick with true, pure breeds.
  • Cross pollination can happen by insects and the wind-leaving you with uncertain result of your plant variety.
  • Beans and peas self-pollinate and are the easiest to save and store.
  • Keep your garden as far away from your neighbor’s to avoid cross-pollination (as much as possible)
  • Remember root crops, parsley, cabbages, and Brussel sprouts are biennial-meaning they don’t form seed pods until their second year. And most of these varieties aren’t cold tolerant so they won’t survive the winter. Best to buy these seeds every year!

Collecting the Seeds:

  • Tomatoes, squash, and melons should be picked when their ripe. Scoop out the seeds and spread them to dry in a well ventilated area.
  • Beans and peas should be left on the vine until the pods begin to crack and break open.
  • Other seeds should be fully formed and hard.
  • Always collect from multiple healthy plants, not just one or two.

Seed Storage:

  • Label and store seeds as soon as possible after harvesting.
  • Envelopes work well for containers for small quantities of seeds.
  • Glass jar are great for large quantities.
  • Best way to label each seed-vegetable, the variety, when it was bought, month and year of harvest.
  • Store in a cool, dry place. Avoid moist areas it will cause your seeds to sprout and mildew.
  • Potatoes, onions, and garlic can be stored in open boxes- root cellars are the best for storing.

Longevity of Plants in Years: (info from

Asparagus  4, Beans, string 2, Broccoli 3, Cabbage 3, Carrots 4, Cucumber 5, Lettuce 5, Onions 2, Peas 2, Pumpkin 6, Radish 3, Spinach 5, Squash 4, Tomatoes 3, and Turnips 3. But some can last up to 10 years if properly stored.

Test Your Germination:

  • Place seeds on top of damp cotton or newspaper- I’ve used paper towels before!
  • Place in a covered dish or plastic bags also work.
  • Leave at room temperature for 3 days up to a week
  • Count how many seeds have germinated to see if most of your seeds are viable.

Seems simple enough, right? Pretty cool to try out and see how your seeds survive the winter. Testing you seeds for germination can also give you a jump-start on your seedlings or for planting them directly in the ground. I use this method every year and give my seeds a little head start. And since I don’t have a root cellar. (I do have a pseudo way to make one though, I’ll save that for a future post one day!) But I will say I have placed seeds in separate envelopes, put them in a small plastic accordion file and stored the file on the top shelf of my refrigerator and all my seeds have come back year after year! Comment or message me and let me know your successes or frustrations in the months to come. Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

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About Farm, Foodie and Fitness

Kelly Roberts is a Healthy Living Advocate. She is the owner and CEO of Beach Pilates and Wellness and Farm Foodie Fitness. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and received her training from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City. Fueled by passion, she founded her holistic health practice, Farm Foodie Fitness. She educates and teaches her clients and the community the life changing benefits of nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Her practice consists of corporate and private clients from all across the country. Kelly is also the owner of Pilates on the Beach in Ocean City, Maryland and Bethany Beach, Delaware. She offers classes out on the beach for locals and visitors from May to September. She is a Certified Pilates instructor by world renowned Body Arts and Science International. BASI Pilates ®. For the past ten years, she has specialized in Pre and Post-Natal, athletes, rehabilitation, and clients with chronic illness. Kelly also offers private one-on-one sessions, as well as semi-private sessions. Kelly first discovered Pilates twelve years ago after a serious car accident left her with debilitating back and neck pain. She incorporates the Pilates method into her teaching and daily practice to maintain movement, a healthy lifestyle, and to live pain free. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Salisbury University with a concentration in Mass Media. Her passion for nutrition and food lead her to Alissa Cohen, where she studied to become a Certified Raw Chef. She enjoys incorporating raw foods into her diet and sharing her knowledge with her clients, friends, and family. She offers private and group cooking classes, food demos, and has also been a private chef to a number of families. Also a Certified Master Gardener, she understands the importance of fresh, local foods, and knowing where your food comes from. Kelly offers gardening knowledge, advice, and hands on training through community gardens. She also teaches elementary children the benefits of nutrition and how growing your own food through edible school yards. Kelly is also a published author; her fiction novel, "The Road to Chianti" and her summer and winter cookbooks, "Farm Foodie Fitness Homegrown.” She has been featured in Mind Body Green, Charleston Home Magazine, and many other publications. Kelly recently released her first fitness DVD "Beach Pilates and Wellness, Pilates Mat Workout." She also has a successful health, nutrition, fitness, and organic gardening blog. Make sure to check it out! When Kelly is not running businesses she's chasing her two little ones. Contact Kelly to book seminars, demonstrations, book signings, or speaking engagements.

3 thoughts on “Seed Saving From Your Garden

  1. Pingback: Garden Cress and its Natural Health Benefits | Go Fish Ministries, Inc

  2. Pingback: May Planting in Seattle: Beets, Pumpkins, Squash and More! | Seattle Foodshed

  3. Pingback: What is Germination? | Garden at School

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