More than 40 percent of people spent more time gardening in 2020, according to a Gardening Insights survey. This sudden boost in gardening activity caused massive spikes in sales of vegetables and flowering plant seeds, and online seed stores as well as gardening stores reported a 300 percent increase in sales compared to previous years. Home gardeners would do well to preserve some seeds from their crops to plant next year, so they don't have to spend time and money purchasing new seeds. Some guidelines for harvesting and preserving the seeds from your garden are discussed below.
While there is a large variety of vegetables which can be grown in a garden, only a few types of vegetables have seeds which can be easily harvested and preserved. It is advisable to grow vegetables like peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers whose flowers are easily self pollinated, since seeds are more likely to be produced. The seeds and plants produced are similar in characteristics to the original seeds. Vegetables which have male and female flowers like corn, vines will require cross pollination. For this the gardener will have attract bees and other insects for cross pollination, and the characteristics of the seeds may vary.
Typically a gardener will grow several vegetable plants of the same type in his garden. After they start bearing vegetables, it is advisable to check the vegetables for their taste and quality. The gardener should choose the seeds from the plants yielding the largest and best tasting vegetables. Some of the plants may be weak and small, so their seeds should not be preserved. Usually the ripening vegetables help to attract wildlife to your garden. Hence the vegetables should be protected, so that birds and other pests do not eat the vegetables with the seeds.
Preserving the seeds
The procedure for preserving seeds will vary depending on the type of seeds. When it comes to bean and pea seeds, the seeds can be allowed to dry naturally on the plant. The seeds should then be harvested along with their pod, dried to remove moisture. For tomato seeds, the gel and the seeds should be removed and put in water in a glass jar. The water in the glass jar will ferment after some time, so that the seeds will sink to the bottom. The fermented water can be discarded and the seeds should be kept out for drying. Peppers can be allowed to dry on the plant, till they wrinkle. The dried seeds should be then removed.
After each seed type has been harvested it should be labelled, with information like the seed type, specific variety like color and date on which the seeds are harvested. This will help the user easily identify the seeds after a few months or a year. The seeds should be kept in separate paper packets for each variety and all the seeds can be stored in a glass container. The seeds should be kept in a cool and dry place. To prevent germination of the seeds, a desiccant like silica gel or milk powder can be used.
It is usually advisable to use the seeds within a period of one year after they are harvested. Though it may take some effort, harvesting seeds will ensure that you can get the same high quality vegetables every year.