Late summer and autumn are a great time to be saving seeds for sowing the following year. Seed saving is one of the easiest jobs in the garden. Simply remember to pick a few spent flowers or well-ripened vegetables.
- Pick the spent blooms or ripened vegetables on a dry day. Even better if the weather has been dry for a few days.
- Moisture will create problems for saving your seeds, such as mould. Once you bring them indoors, even if they seem dry, leave them in a spot where the they can completely lose any remaining moisture. I leave them near my boiler in the kitchen or a windowsill that doesn’t get direct hot sunshine.
- Only save seeds from open pollinated or heirloom varieties because this will ensure that the seeds are true to the parent. This includes tomatoes too. Hybrid or F1 vegetables will not produce true seeds.
Saving Seeds – Vegetables
Climbing and dwarf beans are a real success in summer as they produce large harvests. These are perfect candidates for seed saving. Leave a few of the beans to turn brown and dry on the plants. Then on a dry day, pick them and pop them indoors so that they can lose any remaining moisture.
Peas, runner beans and broad beans are also perfect for seed saving in this way.
I have also grown okra before and let a couple of them ripen before cutting them off the plant. Drying them indoors allowed me to pop them open to release their seeds.
Saving Seeds – Tomatoes
Tomato seeds can also be saved for the following year but they have to be open pollinated or heirloom varieties. These varieties produce seeds that will grow true to the original parent. For example, the seeds of open pollinated Roma tomatoes and my favourite Costoluto Fiorentino which are an heirloom variety can be saved for the following season. Sungold tomatoes are an F1 variety so I will not be able to save their seeds. More details can be found on the Quickcrop post if you’d to read about the these different types.
Tomato seeds are covered in a gel like substance and this is best removed for saving seeds. Fermenting the seed pulp does the trick. Choose the best tomato, scoop out the inner pulp with the seeds in it, pop it in a glass bowl and then cover it with a small plate.
I leave the covered bowl on my kitchen counter away from the bright sunshine for a few days. The seed mix will smell as it ferments but covering it with a plate usually suffices. After 4-5 days, wash the seeds in a sieve and dry on a grease proof paper (paper towels can stick!).
I leave them to dry for a few days and again not in direct sunlight and then pop them in a labelled glass jar or in a paper envelope. Ready for sowing the following year and sharing!
Saving Seeds – Flowers
Flowers and summer go hand in hand! Some flowers have seeds that are easy to save, like the French Marigolds, Sunflowers, Zinnias and Calendula.
Pick the flowers once they have bloomed and are spent. These are best picked in sunny weather and then bring them indoors for drying completely.
I bought a packet of French Marigold seeds to plant one year and I have only used saved seeds to grow more marigolds since then. As late as October, French Marigolds can still be blooming and attracting bees. So I hope you’ll be able to save these seeds to plant them again next spring!
Sunflowers are such happy flowers and brighten any outdoor space! They are so easy to grow and their flowers are true magnets to bees. Tall sunflowers give beautiful height to any sunny corner or border while the dwarf varieties will be perfectly happy in pots too.
I must not forget one of my favourites and that is the Zinnias. Definitely one for a beginner, but once you’ve grown it you will want to have it feature in your garden or balcony every year! I start these indoors in early spring from seed and then plant the seedlings outdoors in late spring. The blooms are gorgeous and robust, and last for many, many days.
Store all the thoroughly dried seeds in paper envelopes or glass jars with labels. They are ready for planting in spring next year. This is an easy and thrifty way of growing your garden!
Hope you will be giving it a go this year!