Before you correct me on the redundancy of this post’s title… yes, I am aware that zucchini is a squash! I just wanted that keyword to appear in the title for people’s searching purposes.😊
In the “How To Save Seeds” segment of my blog, I will go over some tips on how to save seeds from your garden to plant in future years.
I am very passionate about growing and preserving my own food! I don’t fault anyone who doesn’t, as it is definitely a full-time job and then some!!! I just truly enjoy being so connected to God’s creation in this way!😁
That being said, I also save my own seeds for the purpose of saving money. I am a penny pincher, and I cannot justify throwing away seeds that could provide me with FREE food the following year!
Today, I’ll talk about how I got my zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant seeds ready to store.
1. The first thing you need to know about saving seeds is that you DO NOT want to save seeds from a hybrid plant! The seeds will not produce the same quality that your current plant has. They may not even germinate or fruit at all. Always make sure you are starting with an heirloom variety.
2. Choose the best quality vegetables from which to save your seeds.
I like to choose the biggest and prettiest veggie from each category for seed saving. The reason is that those seeds are likely to produce veggies with similar characteristics when you plant them, in the same way that we pass down our characteristics through our DNA. If you always choose your biggest and best, your produce will just get bigger and better with every passing year!
3. Once you’ve chosen your seed producer, allow it to remain on the plant for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!!!
When you are saving a veggie for seed, you need to leave it on the plant well after it becomes ripe! This is done to ensure that the seeds have time to fully develop and mature. As long as it’s not starting to rot, I would suggest leaving it there until the rest of the plant dies off at the end of the season.
When I did this with my zucchini and yellow squash, the skin became thick and firm, similar to a winter squash, but that was actually a good thing. It helped to preserve them longer. The eggplant became firm as well, but the skin did not get as thick as the squash skin did.
If the seeds do not have time to fully mature, they will look flat and deflated, as they do in the picture below:
If your seeds look like this, don’t save them. They are not fully developed and will not germinate.
4. After harvesting your zucchini and other squash, all you have to do is cut into them and scoop out the seeds!
The seeds of the squash are in the middle, so in an effort to leave as many seeds as possible intact, I just cut off a small portion from the side of the squash, as opposed to cutting it down the middle. Then I used a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
You will want to be sure to separate the seeds from the flesh of the squash using your fingers. Yes, I know, it’s super messy! You’ll just have to get over it! 😋 Then rinse the seeds off really, really well using a colander or fine mesh strainer.
5. Once the seeds are clean, spread them out on a flat surface in a single layer to dry. (A lot of people recommend a paper plate for this, but after using this method, I think I prefer a ceramic or plastic plate. The seeds tend to stick to the paper plates.)
Once every day or two, I shuffle the seeds around and flip them over in order to help them dry more evenly until they are completely dry. If you think they are all the way dry, give them an extra 2-3 days after that, just to be sure.
As you can see, there are HUNDREDS of seeds on this plate, and they all came from ONE zucchini! The same holds true for other squashes and eggplants.
To harvest the eggplant seeds, cut it in half and push your thumb down into the flesh to pop the seeds out. (You will get a lot less flesh sticking to the seeds by doing it this way instead of scraping them out with a spoon.)
Pull up the center of the flesh to find more seeds underneath it, as well. Again, rinse the seeds thoroughly with a strainer, and spread them out on a plate to dry.
6. Once the seeds are all dry, I put them into the smallest mason jars I can find, label the lids, and store them in the freezer. They will store for years this way! I know from experience that they will last at least two years in the freezer, because I had a very high rate of germination when I did this. I’ve also read about other people saving them for 5+ years this way.
When it’s time to plant in the spring, I just take the seeds out of the freezer a few hours before I plant them to let them come to room temperature. Then just plant as usual.
By saving your seeds, you can have an entire garden of almost completely FREE FOOD!!! You may have to spend a minimal amount of money on potting soil and organic plant food to achieve the best results. I don’t know about you, but as a family of 5, I sure get excited about anything that’s free!!! 😂
You can also sell your extra seeds or save some extra to plant in plastic cups in the spring. Then you can sell them as started plants. It’s a great way to make money from something that otherwise would have been thrown away! If you’re feeling generous, you could even package some up and give them out as Christmas presents!
I hope this post inspires you to give seed-saving a try! For tips on getting your garden started in the spring, see my post about starting plants from seed.
Also, stay tuned for more seed-saving tips for other types of fruits and veggies.
As always, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments you may have.😊