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Saving Seeds

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Grow ripe fruit.

Before plucking seeds, the plant’s fruit should be grown to its ripest point. For beans and peas, this is far beyond the normal harvest time—well after pods have swollen and begun to dry.

Collecting seeds for saving is easiest for beans and peas, which can be removed from dried pods like shell beans. Tomatoes are a different story. Fruit must be picked when ripe and then squeezed to capture both seeds and slimy juice in a plastic container.

Allow seeds to sit in the juice.

Seeds must ferment in the juice for several days to remove a gel coating that hinders germination. Place the container outside to avoid the smelly fermentation process, but keep the seed container away from direct sun. In a few days, a foul-smelling scum will form on the surface.

Leave the seeds in the scummy soup for another day or two before pouring off the scum and lightly rinsing the seeds. Toss out any seeds that are afloat after the other seeds have settled to the bottom. Dry the seeds on paper plates or napkins labeled with each variety. Allow them to cure indoors (out of direct sunlight) for an additional week before packaging them in labeled paper envelopes. Store the envelopes in a cool, dry location.

About the Author: Andy Tomolonis is a writer and gardener in suburban Boston.

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Give us your opinion on Saving Seeds.
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Great info
Jeremy, Le Mars, IA
Posted: 3/4/2013 7:19:25 AM
I love saving seeds!
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 3/3/2013 12:05:57 AM
Thank you for telling me how to save tomato seeds. I have an heirloom farmer nearby and I would love to save some of their seeds for growing next year (Though it may be more ethical to buy, at least, one of their plants first (and it will keep me from eating the seed producer, maybe...).
Jenna, Hugo, OK
Posted: 8/27/2012 3:42:37 PM

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