An essential aspect to any prepper’s garden is to learn how to save seed and make it a part of your routine. It would be easy to eat all of your tasty zucchini and then realize you never let one over-mature to collect seeds or that you eat all your radishes before letting any bolt, flower, and go to seed. But this is only a part of the equation, you must also learn how to properly harvest and store for EVERY plant you have in your garden. Some are easy, like peppers or green beans, while others are less straight forward, like carrots or beets.
The number one tip I can give to preppers is to mark vegetables you want to save for seed so that nobody in your network is tempted to pick them fearing they may over-ripen. I do this by writing the word “SAVE” on things like cucumbers, squash, and zucchini that I want to let over-mature for the collection of seeds. However, you can’t write on things like green beans, radishes, or carrots. For these, I recommend getting some brightly colored ribbon and tying it loosly around the stems of those plants reserved for seed harvesting.
Now it is important to make a distinction between plants that produce vegetables containing the seeds, such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, zuccihini, squash, cucumbers, corn, etc. and those that must bolt, produce flowers, and produce seed pods, such as lettuce, spinach, and radishes. The following is a picture of the seed pods produced by radish flowers after being pollinated. These pods contain numerous seeds, which can be harvested by breaking the pods open after allowing them to dry on the plant in fall.
- The vegetables must be over-mature, and often much bigger than you would eat, for them to produce mature seeds that will germinate the following year.
- Seeds must not be damaged when you cut open the vegetable to scrape out the seeds. Seeds that have been cut in half should be discarded.
- Seeds must be dried COMPLETELY on a ceramic plate before storing them in an envelope or jar. Any moisture in the seeds will cause them to mold. Seeds should snap in half easily when completely dry.
The following are a few YouTube by @GreenGardenGuy1 videos showing the seed saving process:
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