You will also save some money this way. I just love the concept of being self sufficient while growing my plants. But there are always some basics to follow, without them you might not get as good results as you had expected.
Basics of collecting seeds:
1. Heirloom vs Hybrid seeds
The seeds from hybrid plants have low chances of giving good results in the next season. For example if your hybrid cucumbers gave you good rewards this season, their seeds might give miniature ones the next season. So make sure that if you want to save seeds always start with a true breed/ open pollinated or heirloom variety.
2. Multiple variety plants seeds
If you have planted two or more varieties of the same crop (example Cucumber, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, celery, spinach, cauliflower, radish, onion and basil) there is always cross pollination which will happen between the varieties. The resulting seeds have low chances of been better than the once you planted (though it is never a mathematically impossibility!). The best way out is to plant only one variation for each plant. Also keep in mind where your neighbor has planted these crops, and try to keep them far away.
3. Biennial plants seeds
Some common plants are biennial, that means that they produce seeds once in every two years. Examples are carrots, cabbage, parsley. Make sure that if you want to collect seeds from these plants, don’t uproots them till the next season.
For fleshy vegetables, pick them when they are ripe, take out their seeds and dry them, example tomato. For plants like beans, peas, onions, most of the flowering plants, carrots, and herbs have to dry off on their plants, before their seeds can be collected. Corn also should be left on its stalk till it is dry, and then its kernels can be removed.
Remember, the healthier seeds you collect, the better chances of the next harvest being a bumper one. So try saving seeds from the healthiest plants.
For storing seeds for the next season keep the seeds in labelled envelopes or glass jars in a cool and dry place. It is easy to mix up seeds so remember to label them. Any moisture in the air will lead to the formation of fungi on the seed surfaces, which will destroy the seeds. To avoid this add a little milk powder or paddy husk in the glass jar. Some seeds survive longer than the others, so before saving seeds make sure that they are good for sowing.
To check how good your seeds will perform, take 10 seeds and place them in between two pieces of damp cotton. Keep this cotton should be left undisturbed for around a week, always making sure that the cotton is moist. At the end of the week count the number of seeds which have sprouted. If 8-9 out of 10 seeds germinate it is a good number.
Seeds can also be used as animal feed, or for seasoning food. So make sure to grab on to nature’s free bonanza!