How to Save Seeds for Next Year's Garden

Seed saving is one of the small joys of gardening: knowing that what you planted this year can continue for many years to come.

Couple that with the uncertainty of seeds being available when you need them (if you were caught in the mad dash for seeds last spring, like everybody else) and seed saving is more important than ever.

Here's what to look for when selecting the right seeds to save and the right time to harvest them.

Open-pollinated vs. hybrid seeds

Seeds from heirloom and OP varieties stay true to breed, so your next generation of plants will take on the same genetic traits of the plant they came from.

Seeds from hybrid plants, on the other hand, may take on the traits of just one parent, or even combine random traits of both parents to become a completely different plant from the one you previously grew.

Annual vs. biennial plants

Annuals are plants that go through one complete growing season before setting seed. They’re the most predictable, as you know the seeds will be ready for harvest within a few months of sowing.

Biennials, on the other hand, are plants that require two growing seasons to complete their life cycle. The first year, they focus their energy on vegetative growth. The second year, they reach sexual maturity and go into seed production.

How to choose which plants to save seeds from

When saving seeds, you should collect from your most vigorous plants with the most desirable characteristics — those that germinated first, produced fruit the earliest, produced the most fruit, or bolted last.

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