Here is part two of the seed saving infographics I’ve created, this one focusing on the wet method of seed saving. The previous post on the dry method can be found here [x].
As we officially start off the summer, it’s never too early to start thinking about the harvest, and what practices we can implement throughout the year to create a more sustainable, even regenerative, garden. For more information on the importance of seed saving in particular, I’ve included links to additional resources below.
So, click on the image for the full-sized version, and feel free to download and share as you wish! Detailed steps are included below the graphic.
The Wet Method
Step 1: Know your plants
When you begin harvesting from your plants, make a note of which plants you want to take seeds from. Maybe you like the taste of a particular plant, or a plant did well in extreme weather conditions and you want to preserve those traits. From there, do some research to understand the life cycle of your plants to know when you should harvest seeds. The wet method of seed saving is ideal for melons, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, tomatillos, citrus, cactii, chiles, and similar plants.
Step 2: Fermentation
When you’re ready to save the seeds, take the seeds and some of the pulp of the fruit and mix it together with warm water. Let the mixture sit and ferment for a few days. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom while the hollow and less viable seeds will float to the top. This fermentation step also inoculates the seeds against pathogens, which will help the plant remain healthy as it grows.
Step 3: Clean and dry
At the end of the fermentation process, decant the water and rinse the seeds until they are clean. Then, dry the seeds in a warm, dry spot of your home, or in your oven on the lowest setting with the door open. If you dry them using the oven, be sure to keep an eye on them so that they don’t roast. The seeds are properly dried when they break, but do not bend.
Step 4: Proper storage
When your seeds are ready for storage, be sure to keep them sorted properly and label the containers with the type of plant, the date the seeds were saved, and other pertinent information on growing. You can get special seed envelopes, or just use regular paper envelopes. Then, store the packets in a cool, dry place. It is essential that the seeds are not exposed to moisture after they have been dried! You can add a small bit of cornflour or powdered milk to the packets to absorb any excess moisture. The freezer can also work in most cases!
Step 5: Use them!
Seed viability decreases over time, and so be sure to use them when they’re at their peak! The best way to know for sure if your seeds are still good is to look up the typical longevity of seeds online. If you don’t think you’ll be able to use them before time is up, find a local seed swap or give them to a friend!
This infographic and the information presented here are just the first steps to saving seeds. My previous post on the dry method of saving seeds can be found here [x], but also, use the below links to continue your seed saving education!
On the importance of seed saving
- The Importance of Seed Saving | Mid-Region Council of Governments – New Mexico
- “Open Sesame” Shows the Importance of Seed Saving | Mercola
- Ritual | International Seed Saving Institute
- Why Save Seeds? | Fedco Seeds
Links to more information
- Garden Info | New York Permaculture Exchange
- Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook
- Two Methods for Saving Your Own Seeds | City Growers
- How to Dry Out Seeds in the Fall to Plant Next Spring | HowCast [Video]
- Beginner Seed Saving | International Seed Saving Institute
- How long do garden seeds last? | Oregon University Extension Service
- Estimating Viability: How Long Do Seeds Last? | A Way to Garden
- Storing Your Seeds For the Long Term… In the Freezer | Urban Organic Gardener