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Save Seeds for Repeat Success With Healthy Plants

Take the guesswork out of rekindling this season's stunning garden by hanging onto seeds now

More Plants Later

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Gardening can be unpredictable. You can have a glorious bounty one summer, and the next year's crop can be downright meager. One sure-fire and risk-free way to improve your odds is to harvest the seeds from the strongest plants you have right now. To get started, try these tips from Shannon Carmody of the Seed Savers Exchange.

Start with Healthy Plants

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To pass along the best genes, take seeds from open-pollinated plants (not hybrids) that are robust and disease-free. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, and peas are typically good choices for beginners, as are flowers with large, easy-to-extract seeds, such as sunflowers.

Collecting from Dry-Seeded Plants

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To collect from dry-seeded plants, such as peas and beans, let seed pods turn brown and crispy on the stem. Do the same for flower heads. Split open and extract the seeds.

Collecting from Wet-Seeded Plants

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To harvest wet-seeded plants, such as tomatoes or squash, collect seeds when the fruit is overly ripe, past the point of being appetizing. Remove the seeds from the fruit and rinse them off before drying them. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Air-dry until they are hard and brittle (this can take up to 14 days).

Cool, Dry Storage

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Store in a cool, dry place. Slip dried seeds into a paper envelope that you've labeled with the seed variety and date. Stash them in a dark, humidity-free environment, such as a drawer, until spring.