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As the gardening season winds down and you pick the season's last vegetables let some plants go to seed and harvest them for planting next year.
"Saving seed can be really fun and is a great way to learn about plants," said Weston Miller, a horticulturist with Oregon State University Extension Service. "If you choose the right types of vegetables, you can keep them going year after year without buying them again."
Key - Seed - Heirloom - Plants - Traits
The key to saving seed is selecting open-pollinated or heirloom plants, which produce offspring with the same traits. Hybrids are bred from two different varieties for characteristics like disease resistance or higher yield and won't come "true to type" in the next generation. Check seed packets or catalog information so that you know which you are buying.
The easiest crops for saving seed are annual plants that self-pollinate like lettuce, beans, peas, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes.
Collect - Seed - Healthiest - Plants - Harvest
Collect seed from the healthiest plants and allow them to dry. Harvest lettuce seed when the seed coat turns hard and dark in color. Peas and beans are ready for harvest when the pod dries on the plant. Pepper seeds are ready when the fruit is fully mature and starts to wrinkle.
Seeds from annual herbs like cilantro (coriander), arugula, and calendula are also easy to save. In fact, these annual plants will often self-seed, so if you let the seeds mature on the plants and fall to the ground new plants will start next year.
Tomatoes - Smidgen - Fruit - Seeds - Gel
Tomatoes are a smidgen more complicated. Allow the fruit to fully ripen and scoop the seeds along with the gel that surrounds them and place in a jar of water. Allow this mixture to ferment...
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