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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Saving Pepper Seeds

Apologies for the erratic nature of the posts lately!  I'm always frustrated when the blogs I read can't stick to a publication schedule, yet here I am doing the same.  If it is any excuse, I am spending my blogging time putting up pickles.

In any event, this is a quick tip that most of you already know, but which would make the beginnings of a great new gardening project for you or a fabulous homeschool project for your kids:  saving seeds.

One of the great things about growing "heirloom" or "heritage" varieties of plants is that the plants are open pollinated, meaning you can save seeds from one generation to the next and expect the plant to breed true unless it has accidentally crossed with another plant.  So saving seeds is another easy sustainability skill that lets you become that much more independent in your food-growing efforts.

Some seeds, however, are more difficult to save than others.  Tomatoes famously like to go through a process similar to what they'd experience if the fruit fell from the plant and decomposed before the seeds will sprout (although I have fairly good luck with some varieties just rinsing and drying the seeds).  Carrot seeds must wait until the plant flowers in its second year.

Peppers, however, are a great beginner's seed to save.  Just pop the seed core from the pepper while you are cooking and lay it on a plate to dry.  In a few days, you can flake the seeds off, let them finish drying for another day or two, and then put them in a bottle or envelope for next year.  I keep mine in an old amber yeast jar so they are protected from exposure to light, and I store them in a cool place.

Other plants also save seeds easily, including beans and squashes.  What seeds will you save this year?

The Analysis
Fast:  Saving pepper seeds is as easy as drying them on a plate.  A few minutes total of your time, at most.

Cheap:  The whole purpose of saving seeds is saving money -- just a couple of peppers will give you more seeds that buying an entire pack for $3.50 or more.

Good:  This is another step to sustainability, or a great science project for the kids that will go all winter, starting now with seeds and progressing to starting them in February and planting the plants next spring.

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