Saving Vegetable Seeds by Helene Demels

Seeds from my Garden

  • Asparagus Cut the ferns with berries from the female plants and allow them to dry a few days in the field or inside. Soak berries and remove “skins”. Place the seeds on a paper towel to cure and dry for a week before storing.
  • Bean Pods are ready for harvest when some are dry and the remainder have turned yellow, about 6 weeks after the pods were of fresh- eating quality. Cure the pods for 1 to 2 weeks in a warm dry place. Store the seeds in paper bags or envelopes in a dark, dry area.
  • Cabbage Pull entire plants when most of the pods are brown and hang them upside down to cure in a warm, dry place. The siliques will split open, when fully dry, so place something under the plants to catch the seeds.
  • Corn Ears are ready to be harvested for seed from 4 to 6 weeks after they reach eating stage. Pick ears when the husks are brown. Make sure ears are fully dried. Twist the ears or rub two together to release hard, dried kernels into a bucket.
  • Cucumber Select large, overripe fruit for seed saving and allow them to ripen on or off the vine in a cool dry place for at least 5 weeks after eating stage, until they turn yellow, white, orange or brown in color. Select the seeds and store them in a cool, dry place for several more weeks to complete their ripening.
  • Eggplant Scoop the seeds with a spoon into a bowl with water and rub between your hands to separate the seeds. Put the good seeds in a strainer and rinse then drain and place on a coffee filter or screens in a warm, ventilated area to dry.
  • Okra When pods are brown, they will split and you’ll have to collect seeds in a bucket.
  • Pepper Scrape out the seeds and spread them on a screen or coffee filter to dry for about 2 weeks.
  • Squash When they have turned yellowish, orange, cut the squash in half, then scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rinse off the pulp. Spread seeds on a paper towel to dry for 2 weeks and then store.
  • Tomatoe Scoop out seeds, place in a cup of water for 4 days. Each day draining the water and adding fresh water. The seeds will be separated from the pulp and ready to dry. Dry on a coffee filter for a week or two.
  • Watermelon Seeds are ripe when watermelon are good for eating. Wash seeds lightly, rinse and spread on a screen or paper towel. Dry for about a week.

Saving Flower Seeds by Helene Demels

Seeds from my Garden

The seeds of almost all flowers are ORTHODOX that is they are best dried well and stored in sealed containers at 34 to 41 degrees. 

  1. Alyssum  Hand pick the flower heads when brown and they begin to dry. Spread the heads on screens to dry, with sheets beneath to capture the seeds. Rub gently to remove the seeds.
  2. Aster Hand pick the seed heads when brown. Spread the heads on screen to dry.
  3. Begonia The fruit is dehiscent capsule. Harvest the capsules as they begin to dry then spread them on a screen to dry further. Rub to remove the seeds.
  4. Bell Flower Fruit is a dehiscent capsule. Harvest before the capsules shed their seeds. Dry on a screen with a sheet beneath.
  5. Bells of Ireland The showy part of this plant is the Calyx( the external part of the flower. The seeds are in the collection of four nutlets nestled within the base of the calyx. Seeds are ready for harvest when the nutlets are dry.
  6. Columbine Fruits are many-seeded follicle. Harvest the heads as soon as they are somewhat but not fully dry, as they will shatter at the later stage. The seeds should be dark green to almost black when harvesting begins.
  7. Cone Flower The fruits are four-angled achenes. Harvest the flower heads when they are dried.
  8. Four-O’Clock The leathery fruit contains one seed. Harvest as they dry.
  9. Foxglove The fruit is a capsule, collect the capsules by hand as they mature.
  10. Geranium Collect the capsules when they have dried on the plants. Dry them further in a paper bag.
  11. Lilly of the Valley Fruits are many-seeded red or orange berries ¼ inch in diameter. Harvest them by hand once they have turned bright red and have softened.
  12. Love in a Mist The fruit is an inflated capsule containing many seeds dispersed through an opening at the top. Harvest as the fruits dry and shake out the seed.
  13. Marigold Harvest the seeds when the individual flower heads dry brown. Seed is easily rubbed from the head.
  14. Morning Glory The fruit is a globe-shaped capsule usually containing about six large seeds with very hard coats. Harvest the fruits when they are dry and break open the capsule to obtain the seeds.
  15. Pansy Handpick the fruit capsules as they mature. Put the closed capsules in a box covered with cloth as they dry, the seeds will be ejected.
  16. Periwinkle The fruit is a narrow cylindrical follicle containing 15 to about 30 seeds. Hand pick when brown and place on a  screen to dry.
  17. Poppy The fruit is a many-sided cone shaped pod three to four inches long. Harvest the fruit when the capsules turn a light brown before the seeds shatter.
  18. Snow on the Mountain The fruit is a small capsule containing usually 3 seeds. Harvest the fruits and extract the seeds when mature.
  19. Sunflower Harvest the heads when ACHENES (seeds) are dark colored and begin to rub off easily. Store in sealed containers.

Saving Herb Seeds by Helene Demels

  1. Borage Each fruit contains four nutlets. Harvest the dried flower heads by hand. Spread the dried heads on screens to dry further, then thresh or rub to remove the seeds.
  2. Oregano The perfect flowers are arranged in complex clusters. Seed collection:  Harvest the clusters to dry. Spread on a screen to dry further, then thresh or rub to separate the nutlets.
  3. Parsley The perfect flowers are borne in umbels. As the umbels brown and the seeds near maturity, place a paper bag over a head, tying it at its base and allow shattered seeds to fall into the bag. After a couple of weeks, snip the umbels off the plant, leaving them in the bag and allow them to dry further. When the umbels are perfectly dry, shake the bag to remove more seeds.
  4. Basil The small perfect flowers are borne in racemes or panicles. Harvest the clusters when they are brown. Spread the clusters on screens to dry then rub to remove the nutlets. Put the nutlets and chaff in a bowl and gently swirl them around. The very small seeds will sink to the bottom then you can rake off the chaff with your hands.
  5. Dill The small yellow perfect flowers are borne in umbels. As the umbels begin to turn brown, cover it with a paper bag to catch the seeds.
  6. Lovage Harvest the umbels as they turn brown. Spread the brown umbels on screen to finish drying and then rub to remove the seeds.
  7. Tansy The small yellow perfect flowers are borne in clusters at the top of the plant. Harvest the heads when they are brown but before they shatter the seeds.



Seeds From My Garden by Helene Demels

To Obtain the Best Results with Your Garden Seeds

  1. Store only thoroughly dried seeds.
  2. Don’t allow seeds to become damp after the initial drying.
  3. Keep the storage temperature as low as possible.
  4. Keep the storage area as dry as possible, especially if the temperature is below freezing.
  5. Label all containers with variety, date, and any other pertinent information about the strain of your savings.
  6. If you keep seeds in envelopes, store the whole collection in a tightly covered lard can, large mayonnaise jar or other sealed container.
  7. Peas and beans are best stored in bags rather than in airtight containers.
  8. If you keep seeds for more than one year, be sure to protect them as much as possible from heat and dampness during the summer.


From the guidelines, you can see that an ideal place for storing seeds is in your refrigerator or freezer.

The refrigerator is an excellent place to store those commercial seeds left over from summer gardening activities. Place the envelopes of seeds in a canning jar and cap it and place in refrigerator until ready to use.