Today I want to share some of my recent seed saving activities, though this is in no way meant to be a tutorial on seed saving. Some of my saved pepper and tomato seed is getting old, and I need to replenish my supplies while I still have viable seed. Since peppers can easily cross due to insects or even wind activity, I have taken various measures to prevent that from happening. I’m growing many of the peppers in containers, and I have situated them together and covered the plants with a micromesh material to keep out insects. I’m using both the Micromesh and Enviromesh materials for this purpose. I also have a few of the pepper plants for seed growing in ground, and I have covered them with the fabric as well.
I kept a couple of the pots inside the closed greenhouse when they started blooming, and I brought another one inside to isolate it. The Thai Bird pepper plant is loaded with little hot peppers. I wear vinyl gloves when processing the hot peppers to avoid burning my hands or other body parts I might touch with my hands. I only harvest ripe, unblemished peppers for seed, and use a knife to open up the pepper and get at the seeds inside. For sweet peppers I don’t wear the gloves, but I do select only the best ripe fruits from healthy plants.
The seeds need to be dried somewhere out of direct sunlight, until they break when folded instead of bending. Once dry I store the seeds in plastic ziploc bags and keep in a cool dry place. Storing the seeds in airtight glass containers will improve the keeping qualities of the seeds, and refrigerating will help them last even longer. For a good reference book I highly recommend reading Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth. The book contains a wealth of information for saving all kinds of vegetable seeds, plus a few herbs like basil and parsley. I am letting the pepper seeds dry in little plastic containers, and I have labeled them to make sure I know what is inside.
I also saved seeds from an open-pollinated tomato I’m growing this year called Amy’s Apricot. So far it is the best tasting and most productive of several o/p tomatoes I am trialing this year. It’s not entirely necessary, but I take the extra step of fermenting the tomato seed before I dry it and save it. I squeeze the tomato seeds out of the ripe tomatoes, then put in a container and add a bit of water. I leave the dish at room temperature for a few days until the mixture is covered with a layer of mold. The mix is quite stinky at this point, so while it’s fermenting I put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed and where the odor won’t be too obnoxious. The below photo shows seeds of a red tomato I was saving a couple of years ago, and you can see the white blotches of mild forming on the surface. In another day the mold was covering the surface and I proceeded to the next step.
Once fermented, I dump the seeds into a fine mesh strainer then rinse with cold water to get the mold and debris off. Then I spread out the seeds on a paper coffee filter to let them dry. The coffee filter is the best material I have found for this, as the seeds don’t stick to it like they do on a paper or cloth towel. While the seeds are drying I try and break up the clumps and keep them spread out in a thin layer. I keep them indoors at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. They should be dry in a week or so.
I’m also hoping to save seeds from several other pepper this year, including a couple I use for paprika, a guajillo type, and a couple of the baccatum peppers like Aji Golden and Aji Angelo. With any luck I’ll have seeds from some of my favorite o/p peppers and tomatoes to share later this year. I hope you have enjoyed this update on my seed saving activities, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!