Saving seed is easier than you think!
1. Find out where the seeds are. Sometimes they are in the edible bits of plants(e.g. beans). Sometimes you normally harvest the plant before it produces seeds (e.g. cabbages). Leave a few plants to flower and produce seeds.
2. Choose the best plants. Collect seeds from healthy plants.
3. Know what you sow. Label the seeds you collect with name and year.
3. Control your crosses. Some plants, like tomatoes, self-pollinate, so you can their seeds will produce similar ones next year. Some plants cross-pollinate with neighbours so the offspring will be different. Grow these well apart.
4. Treat them right. Different vegetables require different seed saving techniques – to learn what works for specific vegetables, see the references.
5. Allow seeds to ripen fully before you collect them. Leave the plant in the ground, or cut the whole plant when the seeds are nearly ripe, and dry indoors.
6. Collect seeds on a dry day. Be sure to DRY THE SEEDS THOROUGHLY, or they may germinate in storage or go mouldy. Spread them on a plate and put in a cool and airy place. When they are dry, bake some rice in the oven till it is bone dry, put it into a jam jar with lid on and let it cool. Put the seeds in a mesh bag (e.g. the toe of an old pair of tights), pop it in the jar, and leave for a week (if you leave them longer, they may get too dry). Store seeds in a clean, dry jar.
7. Properly dried seeds will keep for several years at a steady, cool temperature (such as in the door of your fridge), in an airtight container.
For more information, see Basic Seedsaving for Beginners, a free leaflet
available from the Real Seed Company’s website, www.realseeds.co.uk
There are many resources on the internet. Here are just a few of our favourites to help you get your garden/allotment up and thriving.
Do let us know if you find any other resources you would like us to share.