If a container plant does well in your garden, save the seeds each year, and the plants you grow will begin to adapt to your local conditions. You can even end up creating your own heirloom varieties that you can share with others. Saving seeds will allow you will have healthier plants each year that grow better and better – and it’s cheaper than buying new seeds or seedlings each year!
It’s also much better to grow your own heirloom foods than to buy produce from the grocery store – in the 1900s, commercial crop producers began buying seeds rather than saving their own seeds, and they began to sell fewer and fewer varieties of fruits and vegetables. Only the hardiest and easiest to ship foods became widely available, which often results in tasteless produce!
To save seeds for most plants, simply harvest and store seeds from the plants that do the best in your garden. You should save seeds from the largest and tastiest tomatoes from your garden, for example. These seeds will produce large and tasty tomatoes next season. Tomato seeds, if properly stored, can stay viable for four to 10 years.
After choosing the seeds you want to save, thoroughly dry them before storing them. You can leave them spread out over a dry paper towel on your counter for a couple days or put them in jars for about a week with silica gel packs. Most seeds just need to be dried and stored in a cool, dry place. You can place them in a plastic bag in a drawer or box for several years.
As time goes on, the seeds’ germination rate will decrease, but seeds will sprout for several years after they’ve been harvested (some can last for many years if stored properly). Always check how you should store your type of seed before doing so, as some plant species do need special attention, such as needing to be kept in a closed container with damp peat moss or newspaper. Dried seeds can be kept in your freezer. Just make sure they are kept at a constant temperature and not exposed to widely different temperature ranges.