Harvesting fresh vegetables from your garden is highly rewarding however, collecting your own seed from produce you have grown yourself comes with its own sweet reward.
Especially if you’re collecting your own Tomato or Pepper seeds as these are expensive to buy and relatively easy to grow. Collecting seed you have allowed to ripen and begin to dry from plants that have performed *true to type and displayed strong characteristics through the growing season.
You will notice when next browsing the seed catalogues, that many varieties are hybrids are F1 cultivars which basically means they have been crossed to combine benefical features exhibited by both parent plants.
Seed collected from F1 or hybrids if grown the following season will be inferior and the resulting crop likely reduced.
Whereas crops that require cross-pollination by insects or the wind will grow a successful crop for a single season, but due to the random pollination the resulting plants are not likely to produce seed that will perform true to the plant’s characteristics?
Hybrid plants have been very successful in producing a large range of varieties that have disease resilience and repel pests ground to produce food with identical characteristics. Collecting the seed from tomato variety such as San Maranzo and Brandywine sowing these seeds in the spring will produce plants with very similar characteristics to the parent.
However heritage or heirloom seeds, historically are the parents of many of today’s cultivars, Heritage seed range will perform due to its parents characteristics and can be collected for many years with the same performance annually.
Collecting fresh vegetable seeds to dry and store for use next year is easy, you will save money from expensive F1 Hybrid seed cultivars often over $3 for just a few seeds.
Growing your own plants and collecting your own seed will give you many more seeds to sow and perhaps you’d like to share some with your friends and family and maybe even sell a few you online.
Tomatoes and peppers are a good choice for seed saving, as are many of the peas and beans that we grow in our vegetable plot.
Tomatoes and Peppers require a little pre-drying preparation whereas the beans just need removing from the crisp pods requiring minimal attention to store for later use.
Collecting seed from your tomatoes is easy once fully ripe and scrape out the seeds and the fluid that surrounds them which has a gel consistency and can inhibit germination.
Adding the collected seeds and the gel to a small glass jar and water, next shake or stir the jar daily for the next five days, allowing the seeds to fall to the bottom and can be extracted from the fermenting gel.
Allowing the gel to ferment is an important process which encourages bacteria to fight off any disease that the plant may have picked up during the growing season.
Rinse the seeds and pat them off on paper towel to allow them to dry completely before storing in brown paper envelopes. Alternatively to save a lot of seeds store them in a screw-top jar adding a little silicon gel to allow the seeds to remove any excess moisture.
During the seed collecting process, it is important to keep your jars and envelopes well labelled with plant names, the date the seed was collected and packaged. Once safely sealed the seed packets or jars can be stored in a cool and dry, frost-free room set aside for future use or offer for sale on your online seed store.
*True to type, plants that continue to display identical characteristics.
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Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant
“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“
iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.