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Saving seeds main image
In this article we look at saving seeds from garden produce and how this can provide you with plenty to sow for next season.

Chillies

Chilli pepper image 2

If you are planning to save seeds and want the same variety next year, it’s best to grow just one variety of chilli pepper:

  • Cut open a ripe fruit and remove and wash the seeds (Wearing gloves is advisable for this to avoid getting the juice on your fingers as this can irritate the skin)
  • Leave seeds to dry in a warm place for a few days
  • The seeds are ready once they break, rather than bend, when tested with a fingernail

Chives

Chives image

Chive flowers produce masses of tiny seeds which dry quickly on the plant:

  • As soon as the seeds turn black, collect seed heads in an egg box
  • Alternatively place a paper bag over the top of the plant and cut the seed heads into the bag
  • Shake out the seeds and store in a cool, dry place in a labelled envelope

Lettuce

Lettuce image

Seeds can be collected from lettuces that have deliberately been left to go over:

  • Shake the fluffy seeds into a bag or bucket once they have ripened – usually a couple of weeks after flowering
  • Separate seeds from white plumes and chaff in a sieve
  • Ensure the lettuce plants grown for seed are at least 8m away from other varieties as lettuce can cross-pollinate

Peas

Pea pods

Dried pea pods which have been missed and not picked are great to harvest for seeds:

  • Remove pods when they begin to rattle
  • Shell the peas and dry them for a few days in a warm place
  • If frost is forecast, bring the pods inside to dry
  • Peas are generally self-pollinating and should produce seeds that are true to type

Runner beans

Runner beans

As runner beans are likely to cross-pollinate with other plants up to 800m away, it’s important to isolate them and pollinate by hand:

  • Cover the flowers with fleece or insect-proof netting
  • Ideally leave the beans in situ to ripen in their pods
  • Shell and dry further indoors
  • In wet weather, remove pods and leave in a warm place until completely dry

Tomatoes

Tomato image3

Tomatoes can cross-pollinate but are most likely to grow true to type:

  • Squeeze the seeds and flesh from a ripe tomato into a bowl
  • Leave for a few days until the mixture begins to ferment
  • Stir into a jar of water and save the seeds that sink to the bottom
  • Rinse them thoroughly before placing in a warm spot to dry

Storing the seeds

  • Seeds can be saved in envelopes labelled with the date and variety name
  • They should then be stored in an airtight container with a couple of sachets of dried silica gel and placed in a cool, dry cupboard or the fridge.
  • The seeds should remain viable from two years to over five years, depending on the crop

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