Saving Seeds – Tomatoes – Peppers – Squashes

Saving seeds from plants you have grown can be great fun and adds another element to your gardening experience. Some of the most popular vegetables people grow, are tomatoes and peppers, including chillies. Saving seed from these plants is very easy. Always remember as with all plants F1 hybrids are a cross between two other varieties and will not come true from saved seed. It is best to save seed from heritage or open pollinated plants. [ Your original seed packet will say if it’s an F1 or other hybrid ].

To save seed from a tomato, select a mature and ripe fruit, one that is of good quality and of a healthy, disease free plant. I like to place my chosen fruit on a saucer and keep on my kitchen windowsill, till nice and ripe and just starting to go soft. This will ensure that the tomato seeds inside are mature. I tear the tomatoes open and separate the seeds from the tomato pulp, don’t worry if there is some pulp left on the seeds this will come away when washing. Place the seeds in a fine sieve, I use a plastic one as it’s gentler on the seeds. Then under running water gently wash the seeds to remove any leftover pulp. When clean, tip the seeds onto a wad of kitchen paper and blot off the excess water. Take a new dry wad of kitchen paper and spread out the seeds to dry. Place somewhere warm and light to dry naturally. Keep a check on their drying, they should be fully dry in 4 to 7 days depending on temperatures. Don’t for get to write the name on the kitchen paper or a label, so you don’t forget the varieties your drying. When fully dry, place in a paper bag or envelope and again, write on the name of the variety.

To save seeds of peppers and chillies, it’s even easier. Select a good quality mature fruit from a healthy plant, many peppers and chillies change colour as they ripen, so wait till the pod changes to it’s final colour before harvesting. I like to set aside my chosen pods and keep till signs of going a little soft. This means the pods are fully ripe. Split the pods open and remove the seeds, as peppers and chillies have no inside pulp, there is no need to wash. Then lay seeds out on kitchen paper to fully dry, up to a week. Bag and label with variety. You can if you wish leave chilli pods to fully dry out and then remove the seeds.

To save seeds from squashes, pumpkins or melons, just cut the ripe fruit in half, then scoop out the seeds. They usually require washing to remove any pulp, and dry on kitchen paper. As the seed coat is quite thick give these large seeds up to two weeks to fully dry out. Then bag and label. You can save the seeds of cucumbers, but as most are f1 hybrids, I dont usually bother. If you do want to try, you will need to keep the green cucumber till it fully matures and turns yellow.

I use glassine bags to store my seeds in, they are the thin tracing paper type bags, often sold to store stamps and coins. They come in all sizes and are easily bought online. You can also make your own paper seed packets, and why not have a go at drawing and printing your own designs. Remember to store all your seeds in a cool dry place, I bought a set of storage drawers for £5.00, it is 15″x10″x8″ and is kept in my pantry. I place a few silica gel packets in each drawer.

* Just an idea, some supermarkets are now selling heritage or heirloom tomatoes and peppers, why not save the seeds from one of those fruits. I bought one each of a green zebra and a red zebra tomato to save the seed, I did eat the fruit as well!














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