Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Harvesting Seed

David Wright, Wikimedia Commons
David Wright, Wikimedia Commons

To save on the purchase of plants, you can harvest seeds from your vegetables and flowers and plant them the following spring. Once the seed capsule turns brown, it is ripe. Cut it over a bowl or an open paper bag to avoid losing seeds by accident. Afterwards open the capsule to remove the seeds then store them in a paper envelope for the winter, preferably in a cool location.

If the seeds are in a moist fruit (tomato, pepper, squash, etc.) rather than in a dry capsule, remove the seeds from the fruit, rinse them in clean water to remove any flesh and let them dry on a paper towel for a few days before storing.

Note that harvested seeds will not necessarily give plants identical to their parent if the latter was of hybrid origin or if there were several different varieties growing nearby, because that will shuffle the genes a bit. But if the parent plant was of good quality, its offspring will almost always be great plants too.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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