How to Save your Vegetable Seeds

Considered the holy grail of vegetable gardening - saving seeds is something every experience gardener has tried. Whether it's so you can keep on growing a great lineage of a prolific crop, or to save having to buy seeds next year, there is something quite magical about cultivating your own seeds. 
dried vegetable seeds | how to save vegetable seeds for next year


Every vegetable produces seeds to grow their next generations, however the way they do it can be very different.

Some seeds are what we think of as the vegetables themselves - like peas and beans - whilst some seeds are contained within the vegetables (or technically, fruits) - like tomatoes, peppers and courgettes. Finally, some vegetable plants produce seeds from a completely different part of the plant than what we eat - like lettuces, carrots and kale. 

It is possible to save seeds from all sorts of vegetables. Here's our handy guide of how you can save those seeds for next year:

berlotti bean seeds | how to save your bean seeds

The easiest seeds to save are vegetables like peas and beans - just leave them to grow on the plant until the pods are fully swelled up and start drying out and turning brown. Then harvest the pods and leave the to dry on a tray indoors. After a few weeks you can crack the seeds out of their pods and voila. 

how to store tomato seeds
For vegetables which produce their seeds within a mushy pulp - like tomatoes and courgettes - harvest some ripe vegetables and scoop the seeds out. Put the seeds and the pulp in a jar of water. Swirl it around everyday and after a few days you should see the seeds detaching themselves and sinking to the bottom. Dry them completely with kitchen roll and leave to fully dry on a tray. 

For root vegetables - like carrots and beetroot - and salad vegetables - like lettuce, kale and chard - you'll need a slightly different method, since we normally harvest these vegetables before they have a chance to go to seed.
You'll need to leave a few plants to grow uninterrupted, way past the time you've harvested the rest of them. In one way or another, all of these vegetables will 'bolt' - they'll suddenly grow tall quickly and start producing flowers. These will eventually turn into seeds or seed pods and start to dry on the plant - harvest the seeds at this stage and spread out and leave to dry on a tray. 
Lettuces will bolt after a month or two in hot weather, but the rest of them need to grow through a winter and will bolt the following spring. The process may take a while, but it will be worth it when you see your next generation of seedlings growing strong!

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