Seed Saving: Pumpkin, Peppers, Cantaloupe

You made the initial investment. You plowed the plots, built the beds, potted the plants. You took the time to buy the seeds or starter plants and you planted them. You may have paid a bit extra for plant food or used up precious time brewing a scrumptious compost tea for them. And you’re probably paying for the water that feeds them too. Well, now it’s time to get every possible penny back out of it by doing one simple thing: save the seeds for next year’s garden.[sg_popup id=”1″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]

Pumpkin Seeds

Save the seeds from the largest pumpkin in your garden, or the healthiest-looking and largest pumpkin from your grocer. These make the strongest possible plants.

Steps:

1. Cut open the pumpkin and scrape out the center into a bowl. Fill with warm water.

2. Get your hands in there and pick out the seeds from among the stringy center. Wash as much of the pumpkin off of the seeds as you can and set them aside until you have the desired amount of seeds. (Make sure you compost whatever is left.)

3. Re-rinse the seeds and set them onto a towel to thoroughly dry out. Keep them spread out in one layer so mold can’t grow in between two wet seeds that are stuck together. Transfer them to a cookie sheet or other flat surface and store them in a cool, dry place.

4. Pumpkin seeds hold a lot of moisture, so wait at least a month to check on them. Look them over to see that they have the usual (light) color and have not turned really dark (indicates mold set in). They will be ready to store with all your other seeds in another week or two.

5. They can be stored in a paper envelope (see below) until you’re ready to sow them in late spring.

When my pumpkin seeds are ready to sow next year, I’ll post the pictures and add a link right here.

Red Bell Pepper Seeds

As with any fruit, you want to pick the largest to save seeds from. Other than that, pepper seeds are probably the easiest to harvest since there is no rinsing and very little dry time.

Steps:

1. Cut the pepper in half to expose the seeds. Scrape them out onto a towel.

2. Spread them out in a single layer and let them dry out over the next two weeks.

3. They can be stored in a paper envelope (see below) until you’re ready to sow them in early spring.

Of course, when my pepper seeds are ready to sow next year, you’ll see the link for it here.

Cantaloupe Seeds

Once again, choose from the choicest fruit to collect seeds. I do not recommend collecting seeds from a dry, grocery store cantaloupe. I would advise you collect from fruit you or a friend have grown organically for the best results.

Steps:

1. Cut open the cantaloupe and scrape out the center into a bowl. Fill with warm water.

2. Get your hands in there and pick out the seeds. Set them aside until you have the desired amount of seeds. (Make sure you compost whatever is left.)

3. Re-rinse the seeds and set them onto a towel to thoroughly dry out. Keep them spread out in one layer. Transfer them to a cookie sheet or other flat surface and store them in a cool, dry place.

4. After a week, check on them by stirring them around a bit to aerate. They will be ready to store with all your other seeds in another week after that.

5. They can be stored in a paper envelope (see below) until you’re ready to sow them in the spring.

When my cantaloupe seeds are ready to sow next year, I’ll add a link that post here.

Storing Seeds

The amazing thing about a seed is that a plant-to-be is stored inside them. All it takes is a little water and sunshine to make life happen. The pumpkin and cantaloupe seeds will store for up to five years, and the pepper seeds keep well for around 3 years. But this is only if conditions are right. Make your own paper packet out of a recycled sheet of paper and label it and date it. Store the seeds in a glass container in a very cool place (like a pantry). Or if you store them in a large ziplock bag in the refrigerator, you can double or even triple its shelf life.

So go ahead, make your money back and then eat free from here on out. Isn’t it worth it?