I grew many heirloom plants this year and I wanted to save the seeds of the ones I liked best. Several friends gave me heirloom veggies that I wanted to grow in my garden next year so I had to save those seeds for sure.
I have nosy squirrels and feed lots of birds so drying outside is not an option for me. I wanted to save seeds from my tomatoes, peppers and three varieties of Basil. The peppers were easy. A sheet of waxed paper, scrape out seeds of the best mature peppers and they were dry inside on my utility room counter in a day. I used the small enclosure card envelopes that you see above for all my seeds. (I buy mine from Nashville Wraps) Label them with variety and date. I store mine in a drawer in the studio until time to plant. I have sometimes stored seeds in airtight bags in the freezer. This works well if you have more than you need for one year and want to save longer.
Tomatoes are the worst but not hard. I use my tea strainer to rinse these seeds. I rinse and rub them around on the strainer until most of the slimy covering is gone. Then I spread them out on parchment paper to dry. After 24 hours I loosen them from the parchment paper but leave them to completely dry before I store them. I treat squash and pumpkin pretty much the same way.
Basil is easy, wait until the blooms form hard spikes. Cut them off and place in a paper bag to dry completely. Shake out the tiny black seeds and put them in envelopes. The seeds on the plants in this picture are about ready to harvest. My Tai Basil makes little rosettes instead of spikes but when they are dry, I put them in bags to cure like all the rest. Be sure to label your envelopes & drying bags – all basil seeds look alike!
Annual flowers work pretty much the same. Be sure your plants are not hybrid – these will sometimes not germinate or if they do they will revert back to the original wild stock. Marigolds, zinnia, cone flowers, cosmos and angel trumpets are easy to grow from seeds saved.
Why would anyone want to pay $2.00 and up for a tiny amount of seeds when you can save your own for free? Find a friend or two to trade seeds with and everyone is a winner!