Expand Your Gardening Chops, Save Seeds

Save Seeds

By Amy Ockerlander

Harvesting seed from your own garden is the ultimate act of self-sufficient organic gardening. Saving seed protects our food heritage, supports a resilient local food system and signals the end of the growing season.

You might think seed saving is complex or only for those with vivid green thumbs. As with many things, seed saving can be complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Choose plants that are non-hybrid varieties, also known as open pollinated (OP) or heirloom. Hybrid seeds will be labeled or have a F1 or F2 designation. Only non-hybrid seed will grow a new plant that resembles the parent. Here are some great seeds to start saving – runner beans, arugula, parsley, cilantro, dill, and kale.


To harvest seeds, allow plants to flower and form seed pods or fruit. Mature, viable seeds will be brown or black (not green) and come away from the plant easily. Harvest whole stems when seeds are mature. Put seed pods or flower stalks in a large paper bag in a dry location away from direct sunlight. Shake flower stalks or crack open dried pods to harvest seeds.


If you’re interested in learning to save seeds, join us for our Save Seeds class this week! See below for details and register.

Originally printed in Seattle Tilth’s newsletter, Way to Grow, August-September 2011.

garden gsc June 2010 316Save Seeds

Thursday, September 19; 6-8 p.m.
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, Room 107
Advanced registration required

5 responses to “Expand Your Gardening Chops, Save Seeds

  1. Thanks for making it so simple – I wonder if it might be a good idea for me, as a last step, to put my seeds in my dehydrator for a tiny bit. Mold has been a problem in the past. What are your thoughts?

    • We asked the Garden Hotline and here’s what they had to say:

      As long as the dehydrator keeps the temp below 90 degrees this is probably OK. But ideally it is best to rinse them and put them on something absorbent to let dry. Not coated paper or a china plate for instance. Nothing that will contain moisture close to the seed. You do not want them to dry out completely nor do you want them to stand in dampness so something like a non coated paper plate is fine.

      Feel free to contact the Garden Hotline directly if you have more questions at (206) 633-0224 or help@gardenhotline.org. Happy seed saving!

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