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Can You Use This Year's Seeds in Next Year's Garden?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 17, 2020

bell-pepper

We are dealing with a good question in this week's blog. Can you save vegetable seeds from this year to use next year? The answer is, yes! Aren't you glad you asked? I have some great information on which seeds to save and how to store them.

Seeds to Save and Use Next Year

The seeds from tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, and beans can all be saved to use in your garden next year. Focus on saving only open-pollinated seeds as opposed to seeds from hybrid vegetables. Open-pollinated seeds will produce the exact same type of vegetable they came from.

Preparing Seeds for Storage

Some seeds are a little easier to prepare for storage than others. For instance, to prepare the seeds from a red or green pepper, you simply brush them out of the inside of the vegetable and put them onto a ceramic plate to dry. Sometimes it can take two to three days for the seeds to dry completely. Alternatively, taking seeds from tomatoes requires a few more steps. You are probably familiar with the watery substance that comes out of a tomato when you chop it in half. Tomato seeds need to be free of this watery substance, or gel, before they can be stored away.

Seed Storage

Once the seeds are prepared, they should be put into an airtight container such as a piece of Tupperware or a sealable plastic bag. Find a cool, dry place for them out of the sunlight. The optimal temperature for stored seeds ranges from 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a small refrigerator in your garage, that would be an excellent place for storing your seeds. You could even put them in one of the vegetable drawers to make them feel right at home!

A Word About Expired Seed Packets

Along with storing seeds from this year's vegetables to use next year, you may want to take a look at your seed packets. Perhaps you have some packets with expiration dates that will come and go before planting time in the spring. The good news is you can safely plant seeds from expired packets. However, the expiration date means there's a question as to whether they'll be viable.

A simple test can tell you if they're likely to grow. Take ten of the seeds out of the expired packet and put them onto a moist paper towel. Next, put the paper towel into a sealed plastic bag and leave the bag to sit at room temperature. After ten days, take a look at the seeds. If at least half of them are starting to germinate, then it's likely you'll get some good results from the rest of the seeds in the expired packet.

Reusing Grass Seed

If you have some grass seed leftover, you may be tempted to use it again. The truth is that grass seed must be stored in cool, dry conditions away from the sunlight in order to remain viable. Grass seed stored in the appropriate way can be reused for up to a year. However, you're going to have to use a larger amount of the older seed to get the results you want.

Harvesting seeds from this year's vegetables to use next growing season means you can look forward to enjoying your favorites again in the spring and summer. Plus, the more seed you can reuse, the less money you have to spend at the garden store next year. A win-win! Thanks for reading. 

-Alan

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