Broccoli in flower with a bee helping create seeds

Given my large run of tomatoes lately I currently have pages of seeds all around our house drying, so I thought I’d share what I’ve found about seed saving. When I first started gardening one of my goals was to learn how to save seeds from my plants because it seemed like such a difficult thing to do. How is it done? How can you it’s the right time?  Will I be able to hold/catch the seeds? It seemed a bit overwhelming at first… but it didn’t take long to find how easy it really is! Mainly because the plants tend do all the work for you….

For example:

Nasturtiums: when the seeds are ready to collect the plant literally just spits them over the ground. All you have to do is pick them up. I usually leave mine for about a week on a tray inside to dry out before storing them. Not that I’ve ever needed to use them though – Nasturtiums drop so many seeds and self sow so easily I’ve never had to regrow any since planting my original 2 plants. I tend to give the seeds away as gifts and I even made Christmas bon bons/crackers last year with seeds in them rather than a toy.

Aquilegia: small seeds, however very easy to collect due to the “cup” design of the seed pods. They dry out and you simply tip them upside down and the seeds pour out. Absolutely no effort required for these!


Tomatoes: all my gardening books talk about leaving tomato seeds soaking in water/ fermenting seeds/using dishwater liquid to help separate them. I’m not a lazy gardener, but the whole process just seems too complicated and unnecessary given how easily tomatoes germinate out of the compost. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and spread them over paper towel. Leave to dry for a couple of days then rip the paper up to separate the seeds. When it comes time to plant again I’ve been planting the seeds still stuck to a bit of paper and I’ve never had a problem with germination.

Kale seeds forming

Broccoli in flower

Broccoli and Kale: I actually really enjoy letting Broccoli go to seed as I find the flowers really pretty (especially as by the end of winter/start of spring I’m dying to see something in flower). Where the flowers have been, long pods will develop and I tend to leave them until they look a little “bulgy” (I figure that must mean there are seeds in them!) I then cut off sections and hang them upside down. Keep the seeds somewhere dry like on a veranda or inside if the  people you live with are easy going (I find comparing plants/ seeds throughout the kitchen to power tools and renovations very helpful…) and they will take a couple of weeks to dry out (they change colour when they’re dry). Word of warning though, once dry the seed pods really pop open – I’ve lost loads of seeds over the floor before, but I’ve found opening the pods in a bag can help avoid this.

Broccoli and Kale seeds left out to dry (changing colour)


Capsicums and chillies: simply scoop out the seeds from ripe fruit (eg red capsicums not green). Make sure you’re saving seeds from non-hybrid fruit as hybrids will germinate and grow but not set fruit. You can tell this by looking at the original seed packet (will state hybrid or F1 on the packet) and most seedling punnets will state if they’re hybrids. Be careful though as I collected seeds from a broccoli I bought in a seedling punnet (no mention of hybrid or not on it) and ended up with lots of leafy growth and no broccoli head!

Chive flower (no seeds yet) and dried flowers that have formed seeds

A lot of other plants seem to be really similar – flower, set seed and pick off/collect the seeds when dry, or for some veggies scoop the seeds out from an over-ripe vegetable. I initially tried keeping my saved seeds in the fridge (again from book advice) but the seeds went mouldy. Instead I now keep all my seeds in envelopes in boxes out of direct light. Have never had any seeds go mouldy/bad. In as short as two seasons I’ve doubled my seed collection not including all the seeds I’ve given to friends and family. Not overwhelming in the slightest and helps save money too!

Lettuce starting to flower