Autumn harvest is the time to think about saving seeds for next year’s vegetable or flower garden. I’m Lisa Hilgenberg from Chicago Botanic Garden with gardening tips for the week.
Seeds best for saving are often found in fruits and veggies that are fully mature and disease free. They should only be saved from open pollinated plants, those plants that reliably reproduce themselves year after year.
Save seeds from heirloom tomatoes the simple way by squeezing seeds and juice into a strainer then washing and spreading out on a paper plate. Allow three weeks to dry.
Thresh flower heads separating seeds from chaff.
Leave bean pods to dry and turn brown on the vine until seeds rattle around inside. Shell them by crushing in a cloth winnowing seeds to separate.
Store seeds in tightly sealed containers and properly label them with plant name and date saved. Mailing envelopes work well. Store them in a dark cool place where temperature and moisture will stay relatively stable.
Lisa Hilgenberg is the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden Horticulturist. She teaches classes for the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden and mentors interns from the Garden’s urban agriculture programs in the summer. Lisa draws on a rich family farming tradition, having spent many summers on her grandparents’ farms in Iowa and Minnesota. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @hilgenberg8.