is no doubt that saving your own seed is the most economical method
of obtaining seed. It can also be the worst possible method if a
few simple ground rules are not considered and followed.
first rule is never to save seed from a vegetable or flower that
is an F1 hybrid. Seeds from hybrid cultivars will produce a mixture
of plant types, most of which will be inferior to the parent. For
best success with F1 hybrids, buy new seed each year of the desired
and flowers that are not Fl hybrids are open-pollinated and can
be used as a seed source for next year. Always select the most desirable
fruit from the best looking plants for seed. Allow the fruit to
reach full maturity before picking. In most cases the seed will
have a hard seed coat or turn a dark color when it is mature. A
seed may not be mature at the same time a fruit reaches its mature
red, yellow or green color.
When fully ripe, pick and dry the seed as soon as possible. The
best way to dry seed is at normal room temperature by placing it
on a screen or in front of a fan so that good air circulation helps
dry the seed. Temperatures should not exceed 85 or 90 degrees F,
as seed loses its viability (ability to germinate) rather quickly
at high temperature.
the seed has dried, remove any pulp that may remain. The use of
a fan to blow away the dried pulp is often effective; if necessary,
water can be used to help clean the seed. If water is used, dry
the seed again as quickly as possible, but do not exceed 90 degrees.
It is always best to clean seed without the use of water whenever
seed has been dried and cleaned, it must be stored at low temperature
and humidity. Temperatures should be between 40 and 50 degrees F.
Most seed should be kept where the relative humidity does not exceed
20 to 35 percent. If seed becomes moist, regardless of temperature,
it loses its ability to germinate over a period of time. At low
temperatures, seed can be somewhat moister and still germinate well
after a short storage period.
month or so before the seed is to be used, you should run a germination
test to determine the percentage of seed which have the capacity
to grow. The easiest way to do this is to moisten two or three layers
of paper towels. Place 25 to 50 seeds on the towels and roll them
up. Do not roll tightly. A loose roll will provide more oxygen and
give a better test. Place the rolls in a plastic bag. Keep in a
warm place such as the kitchen counter or on top of the water heater.
Some seed germinates in a matter of several days,-- check the rolls
every two or three days. If the seed does not germinate, it might
be best to discard the seed and buy fresh seed for the coming garden
that are easily saved include the tomato, pepper, eggplant, beans,
peas and other legumes. Peppers are best picked when they are turning
red. Beans, peas and other legumes should be picked when the seeds
in the pods are dry enough so you can hear them "rattle." Place
the pods in a well-ventilated area at room temperature. When the
pods are completely dry, the seed can be removed and stored.
vine crops (cucumber, melons, squash and pumpkins) are somewhat
more difficult. Without controlled pollination, these crops become
crossed with other varieties and types, and it is usually not worth
saving these seeds. If you do wish to save these seeds, the fruit
must be very ripe for seed collection. Cucumbers must be entirely
yellow, and squash and pumpkins must be thoroughly mature. When
mature, separate the seeds from the fleshy fruit and dry at room
from Tom Kowalsick, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2001