What's the best (and easiest) way to keep seeds over the winter?

Homechicken(7b/metro-Atlanta)August 19, 2011

My wife and I bought three different pepper plants earlier this summer. We've not had good luck with the two varieties of bell peppers. They flower and sprout baby peppers, but by the time they're the size of a golf ball, they're soft and spongy with wrinkly looking skins. Then they start to rot on the plant. The plants have just recently started producing nice looking and firm bell peppers, but none are big enough to pluck yet. On the other hand, I've been getting these gorgeous 5 to 6 inch long by 2 inch around Sweet Marconi peppers off one of the plants for the last month or two. These things are absolutely delicious. I went out on the deck (we have them in pots) a while ago and picked a nice ripe red Marconi and am enjoying it raw on a sandwich as I type this. We're not real good at keeping plants alive over the winter. I don't even know if you can keep pepper plants that way. We bring several in every fall and put them by the windows in the basement, but neither of us goes down to the basement much during the winter and consequently, most of the plants usually die from lack of water. If I start collecting seeds from this Marconi pepper plant, and the others too, how do I store them for planting next year?

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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Hey Homechicken:
Seed saving is really easy. I do not know the nature of your Bell Peppers. Only Open Pollinated (not F1 hybrid) seeds will save and develop the same (or almost the same) as the plant you have this year. So knowing a name of the variety is important. Marconi on the other hand is a stable, variety and is not an F1 hybrid (by all probability, although there are a few on the market)....I take the seeds out of my red peppers (they are mature) and dry them a few days on something flat like a plate, then I pop them in a paper lunch sack and hang them up (I have a seed drying rack I made by using a curtain hanger and cafe curtain loops with hooks on the bottom for the bags). Alternatively if you have a folding (or basement) laundry line or even a hanger and some clothes pegs, you can hang them up...anywhere dry and not too sunny or too hot. So mine stay inside in air conditioning for 2-3 more weeks. Then I store them in plastic bags. I get small seed size bags (normally used for beads) for them, but snack baggies work great. For extra insurance popping them in a glass jar is super, although I use old shoe boxes with packets of stuff that absorbs moisture.

They'll be all ready for next year!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 3:07PM
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Thanks girlgroupgirl, so basically just air dry them for a couple of weeks then seal them in an airtight container until ready to plant next summer? That's what I figured, but I've never had much of a green thumb, so wasn't sure. As for the bellpeppers, one says its a sweat red bellpepper and the other just says orange bellpepper. The Marconi says its an heirloom plant so I assume I can continue its family tree with the seeds of the peppers it produces. None say if they're hybrids or anything else that lead me to believe the seeds might be sterile.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 4:41PM
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I know nothing of pepper seeds and I'm glad ggg answered your question.

For other folks that read this thread, storing seeds appropriately depends on the type of seed: some seeds should be stored dry and some need to be stored in a moist situation or the "stuff" inside the seed will die; some seeds need to be planted immediately for best results. If you don't have access to a propagation guide, try using a search engine and type in the name of the plant and the word "propagation" or "grow from seed".

For some seeds, you need to check for bugs and weevils before you store them to avoid contamination - seeds affected by weevils might have small holes in them. I recently collected some yucca seed and my source said to check for bugs - sure enough, a bunch of seeds had holes in them. Acorns can be "float tested"; those with bugs will float in a cup of water. Just discard those.

Anyway, just wanted to say that if you want to know how to handle seeds, make sure you research the specific plant.

Good luck with your peppers, homechicken!

Here is a link that might be useful: Yucca seeds

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 5:45PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Most veggie seeds are dried for a few weeks and then stored at "regular" temps. Esh is speaking of perennials (and some annuals) that have very specific needs. Growing all plants by seed is so interesting, because you begin to learn what "wakes" them up. Sometimes it is drying them out, sometimes smoking them, or giving them a dose of hydrogen peroxide, or soaking for a few hours etc.

As for pepper seeds (and most vegetable seeds) you need to make sure they are VERY dry before they get stored so that they do not get moldy. That is the only key. You can also store them in a jar in the fridge!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 10:18PM
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Thanks esh, and again to ggg.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:11PM
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