If you had a high performing vegetable plant this past summer ( or it just tasted SOOOO good you want to make sure you get some of the same bounty for next year) then save the seeds!
No matter what time of year it is, as long as you still have "fruit on the vine" you can harvest seeds. We're showing you some particular pepper seeds we harvest for our spring crop in our greenhouses called Fish Peppers. The seeds are not always available when we go to purchase them in the winter, so we usually harvest our own.
We picked these a little later than most years, so they are not as firm as we'd like- some are beyond prime. We just weed those out.
Start by wearing rubber gloves -especially if they are hot peppers. You'll be happy you did.
Then, cut off the top of the pepper and discard. If it's moldy inside or the seeds look grey or brown in color, discard.
Use only cream colored, firm seeds. Slice down the center and carefully scrape them out into a bowl. If you are harvesting tomato seed or any other moist seed, do not wash or rinse.
After you have your seeds in a bowl, inspect them carefully, remove any unwanted debris. Lay your seeds out on a paper towel to dry for a few days. Again, with tomatoes or moist seed, you have many days to separate the seeds and remove unwanted skins that may still be attached.
When the seeds are dry ( it's best to do this on a stretch of warmer sunny days, as humidity will factor in the drying time- especially when air conditioning is off and the heat hasn't kicked in yet) and only VERY dry, you can finish removing the rest of the skin or pulp that was left behind. Put the seeds in a plastic airtight container or a seal a meal vacuum storage bag. label the bag and put it in a dry dark place inside your home for next year. Put the date on it! Some seeds are only good for a year and won't germinate after that. You can also use a glass canning jar. I personally don't like to use glass in case it breaks.
Sowing next year:
a good rule of thumb is " the hotter the pepper, the earlier you need to start them indoors" For example, Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) we sow these in late January at our farm. Sweet bell peppers are sown in late February to early march. Tomatoes are sown between late February through to mid- March in our greenhouses, depending on what variety they are. Early, mid season or late tomatoes.
Tomatoes can be sown in groups of 5 seeds or more, but separate them when transplanting outside.
You can save Pumpkin seeds also, but sow these directly in the ground in June.
Cucurbits (squash, cucumbers) are sown just a week or two before planting outside. They grow quickly once germinated. Most are sown directly in warm spring soil outdoors. These can also be planted in one or two week intervals in your garden all spring to mid summer. Put 2 seeds in each hole with Cucurbits.