Seed saving is a great way to increase self-sufficiency and save money.
There are a few considerations when contemplating seed saving.
Only non-hybrid, open-pollinated plants are candidates. Because the plants are open-pollinated, only the seeds of those plants that are single-grown varieties should be saved. If you grow two kinds of hot peppers, for example, the seed from the peppers might have traits of both varieties.
One of the most popular annual vegetables grown anywhere is heirloom tomatoes. Saving seed from your favorite heirloom varieties is a rather simple chore.
Tomato seeds are held in a little gel capsule that prevents them from sprouting within the parent tomato. That gel capsule needs to be removed before the seed can be saved.
Place the seeds from a fully ripe tomato into a nonreactive bowl and add water. Let the bowl stand at room temperature, uncovered, for about three days. Fermentation will occur, and mold will form on the surface of the water. Add more water, stir and then gently scrape the mold and debris off the top.
Repeat the process until only clean seed remains, then strain, rinse and dry the seeds thoroughly at room temperature. Store the saved seeds in a cool, dark and very dry place.
There are many Web sites and publications that offer advice on saving seed from all kinds of plants. Saving seed can be very rewarding and is a great way to enjoy your favorite plants year after year.
• UC-certified Master Gardeners are available to answer your gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be submitted to email@example.com.