Gardening · Homesteading

Saving Seeds

Saving seeds can be one of the most important things you do on a homestead or farm. Not only are you preserving your favorite items you grow, but you reduce your costs the next year by not having to buy seeds. You can share plants that do well in a local area with other like minded people (seed swaps). You become less reliant on others, and in times of panic buying, you will have seeds to plant.

I am writing this a bit late in the season, life has been busy for us. But you can use this come next year. For now, buy your seeds now – don’t wait, in case like this year panic buying happens again.

This part of seed saving is for dry seeds, unlike where tomatoes and similar are wet seeds. I will cover that at another time.

When to harvest seeds will depend on where you live. What growing zone you live in. During summer and into early fall I watch for the signs. Plants start drying out, the flowers go to seed. I save up paper bags that are clean – grocery bags for the big stuff, for small seeds I use paper lunch bags. I mark on the bag what is in it, and when I put it there.

While using a dehydrator might sound like a great way to speed up drying, don’t. Heat isn’t good for seeds. Air dry, in a well ventilated area, out of direct sun.

Rockwell beans, a local bean to Whidbey Island. When the bean pods dry out, it is time to pick them. I haul them in and let them air dry for a week or two (or until I remember), then I shell them and put them up. Be sure to check on them later, to make sure they are not molding if moisture was in them still.

Indigo, the seeds are in the top, shake out into a paper bag. They fall out easily so cut straight up. If the flower top isn’t all the way dry, pop them into paper bags and just let dry for a few weeks, then shake out the seeds.

Quinoa, the seeds saved in early fall. I cut the quinoa stalks off and let them air dry in paper bags for weeks, then I threshed the seeds off and let air dry more, then I packed it up.

White Sage seeds, saved in late fall.

Once your seeds are dried and ready, bag them up. See here for an easy to make seed packet template. This a great project for children to help with! We store our seeds in mason jars after that – to keep them fresh. See here for how to do that.