Friday, July 27, 2012

Drying & Saving Seeds for Future Planting

Earlier in the month I posted about drying veggies and herbs in the garden for later use. In a similar vein, it's fairly easy to dry lots of different seeds for planting next year if you know how to do it!

Over the past week, I've been starting to harvest and dry seeds from Bell peppers, Cantaloupe, and Kidney and Provider bush beans. I scoop out the seeds from the veggie of choice, rinse them off gently to clear them of all that inner-vegetable juice, and then I spread them out on a kitchen towel to dry for several days.

Make sure there is enough space between each seed so they can dry properly!

When they're dry to the touch, I gather up the seeds, make sure they're separated by type, and then place them in ziploc bags or 8 oz canning jars. Then, they get labeled with a permanent marker, and I store them in the refrigerator for next year! They seem to store quite well that way- I kept pepper seeds (in a plastic bag) and dried beans (in a glass jar) in the fridge over last season and those plants did very nicely this season!

If you're growing beans now and you'd like to save some for drying, here's a tip- let them dry outdoors right on the plant! This year, I planted about 20 kidney beans and 20 provider green beans, all for saving. I just let my bean plants grow throughout the spring and summer- at a certain point they look optimal to harvest for green bean stage, and then they start to get fatter and puffier. Instead of harvesting then, I let about 3/4ths of my crop dry, cutting back on the water I give the plants and eventually not watering them at all.

When the bean pods are beige-white and quite dry to the touch (if you shake them, you should hear rattling inside), they're ready to harvest! Pull the pods from the plant, and you'll have a pile of dried bean pods, like the picture to the left.

Yesterday, I spent 20 relaxing minutes cracking open each pod, and collecting the 2 -5 beans that lay within each one. I ended up with about 100 kidney beans! It's not enough to store as beans for much of anything- really it would only be enough for 1 or 2 winter batches of chilli.

What I'm going to do instead is just save all the kidney beans, as I did last year. Next year, I'll plant all 100 of them in the garden, and have a really big harvest, enough to save as dried beans for future use!

Have you dried and saved any seeds from your garden?  

If so, what was the easiest to save or the most successful plant the next season?

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