How to store seeds for your garden for the following year. Learn how to use photo albums to organize your seeds, what supplies you need for seed saving, and more!
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One of the best ways to save money when gardening is to save seeds. Keep seeds from your plants for next year, or keep leftover seeds from your packets.
For me, I always have lots of herb seeds leftover because I only need one or two mint or basil plants. These are absolutely must-saves and I can keep the leftover seeds in their original packets.
For plants like corn, I use all of the seeds in the packet. But as my gardening skills improve, I am trying to save seeds from vegetables and fruits that I grow so that I can save money on my garden year after year.
Am I Allowed to Save the Seeds?
First, there is the legal matter of saving seeds. Not all seeds can be saved- legally. The same is true of cuttings from plants like raspberries and blueberries.
Seed varieties and creating them is an art- and that art is protected.
The key thing that you want to understand is whether you’re buying heirloom seeds or hybrids. My friend Marie wrote a detailed article on the difference between the two seed types if you’re interested.
Long story short- heirloom seeds are fair game to store for the following year. They’re open pollinated. They’re “old” seeds (as in, they haven’t been modified through selective pollination).
Legally you shouldn’t be saving hybrids.
Personally I usually buy heirloom seeds so I don’t need to remember what I am allowed or not allowed to save. It’s easier to keep track.
But there are benefits to planting hybrids and of course, you may save the seeds that are leftover from your container. You just can’t save the seeds from the fruit/vegetables (taking cuttings is also a no-no for fruit plants).
Seed Saving Tips
- Save seeds only from healthy vegetables or fruits.
- Label seed packets carefully.
- Thoroughly dry the seeds before storing.
- Keep seeds cool and dry in storage.
- Toss if they get moldy.
- Different plants produce seeds in different ways so it’s important to understand the specifics for the plant you’re working with.
- Older seeds may have lower germination rates. The older they are, the less productive they will be. But it’s worth saving them!
Seed Saving Supplies
What To Store Seeds In
My favorite method to store seeds is all over my house and workshop. Haha. Seriously though… this has been what I’ve been doing. It’s not effective and it doesn’t make for good germination rates for the following year. Seeds sometimes get mixed up.
This year I decided to get it together and start organizing my seeds.
I found an old photo album and used each 4×6 pocket for a seed packet. They fit perfect and hold the packets closed (although a piece of tape to secure it wouldn’t hurt).
Where to Store Seeds
Seeds need to be kept away from heat and humidity. They need a cool and dry spot which is why many people like to store them in the refrigerator.
Do NOT store your seeds in a freezer.
It’s always good to check the instructions for the particular type of seeds you’re trying to store.
The nice thing about using a photo album or a special box to store your seed packets is that you can easily pull them in and out of the refrigerator. There’s no loose seed packets falling down in the back or getting lost.
How to Collect Seeds from Vegetables, Fruit, and Flowers
For fruit trees, growing from the seed of the fruit isn’t ideal. Usually people graft pieces of a fruit tree onto another tree, something I’m not completely familiar with. You can read more about grafting fruit trees here.
Strawberries send off runners to reproduce and will not require a lot of help to spread, with the exception of weeding, watering, and keeping the soil fertilized.
For free bushes like blueberry, raspberry, and blackberries, you can take cuttings. You usually need to do this at the correct time of year. Then you keep the cuttings alive until they root and grow into their own plants.
I’ve heard a gardener say that they bend a blueberry bush limb over and let it take root next to the mother plant in their soil. I haven’t tried it yet and my cutting attempts last year failed. It’s on my “to do” list.
Plants like broccoli and lettuce “go to seed.” This is when they bolt (get really tall and the plant gets icky to eat). You can collect seeds from the flowers that pop up. Here’s some information on collecting seeds from lettuce.
The easiest plants to collect seeds from are produce like cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash. They have huge seeds that are easy to find in the center of them.
Seeds need to be dried before being stored. You don’t want moisture in your packets or they can mold. I usually lay them out to dry for a few days on paper towels.
I’ve had pretty good luck with any type of squash, pumpkin, and cucumbers. This year I’d like to attempt saving lettuce seeds.
My goal is to try saving seeds from a new type of plant (or two) each year.
Interested in gardening? Here are some other posts about gardening that I’ve written and you might enjoy: DIY Concrete Planters | Privacy Planters | How to Use Pine Straw as Mulch | 13 Stunning & Easy Garden Trellis Ideas | How to Setup a Pond and Patio | Gifts to Make from the Garden
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Danielle Pientka is the sewing and DIY blogger behind DIYDanielle.com. She taught herself to sew in 2011 when she wanted to make cloth diapers for her first son. She’s been sewing everything from ecofriendly items to kids products to clothing since, as it has become a passion. She loves learning how to do new things and teaching others in the process. She hopes to inspire other moms to take time for themselves to find their own creative passion.
Danielle lives in Maryland with her three young sons and her husband, Brandon. In her spare time, she gardens, reads, horseback rides, and has a small homestead with goats and ducks. Visit her shop to buy patterns or her sewing eBooks. Subscribe to her newsletter to get blog updates, free patterns and other printables by clicking here.