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         Harvest seeds – Process seeds - Store seeds – Plant seeds – Care for plants – Harvest veggies – Enjoy!

This is a really great educational seed- to plant- to table project for the entire family.  In this project we will harvest our seeds from our market produce, then clean, dry, and store them.


We will plant them in the spring, and then watch our garden grow!



Anyone can buy vegetable plants from their local
produce stand or garden store, but did you know
you can grow plants from the seeds that are in
the produce you buy?


Tomato seeds.

Salvage the seeds from your own store bought tomatoes, place the seeds in a small strainer and wash.

While washing, gently press the seeds in the strainer to separate them from the jelly like substance that clings to them.  This might take a little effort but much of the jelly will pass thru the strainer.

Next, empty the seeds onto a kitchen plate and discard any remaining jelly.  In some cases, it might be easier to wait until the seeds are partially dry before removing the remaining jelly.


Leave the seeds on the plate until dry – this may take several days.  During the drying process, you may need to move the seeds around a bit to keep them from sticking to the plate.

After they are completely dry, store the seeds in a small air-tight container (a pill bottle will do) which is then placed in a dark drawer.  Label the containers before storing for the winter.

Other types of produce seeds

We have had success with pepper, and squash as well.  Use the same process but note that is much easier to separate any clinging material from the seeds.

Wash, Dry, label, and store in a dark drawer for the winter.

Potatoes and Onions


You can plant small  pieces of each  that still have the “eye” in them, directly into the ground  before or even during the colder months.   Be sure that the eye is imbedded in each piece that you plant.  Mark and label where you made your plantings, so you do not disturb these areas when spring planting season arrives.


Avocado Pits


These may be planted in smaller flowerpots with

the pits buried on their sides with only a little bit

of the pit showing.  Keep the pots inside for the winter.

You can try other plants and seeds as well.  The ends of celery can be planted in flowerpots.  A nice plant may grow, but maybe no veggies.

Pineapples are easy to grow.  Just take the top and plant directly into a flowerpot.  Keep in a warm well-lit place in the winter and water well.  Watch it grow, but be careful – the leaves of a pineapple plant are sharp indeed!


In the spring, it is time to wake up your seeds from a long winter’s rest, and plant them in your garden.  Turn over or loosen your soil, and add compost or topsoil if needed.  Plant your tomato seeds about 6 inches apart and no more than 2 seeds per hole.  Pepper, onion, and squash seeds can be planted closer together.


As the weather warms and the days grow longer, the fruits (or veggies) of your labor will begin to sprout.  As they grow and grow, you will eventually need to support them. 

You can use sticks or small poles.  In some cases you can use twine between each row if there is a place to anchor the twine at the end of the rows.  Add more support or twine as the plants become larger.


For squashes and other veggies that grow on vines, the seeds should be planted where the vine runners can attach themselves to something that they can grow up onto.




Veggie plants love sunlight and plenty of water too.  Don’t water late in the day and if  using a hose, try to direct your gentle spray to the base of the plants or the soil around the plants.

Don’t forget to put small weather-resistant signs in the ground to help identify your plants as they begin to sprout.


Your veggies may be smaller than those you buy at the grocery store, but remember, it’s the thought that counts!   Pick your veggies when they ripen and do not appear to be getting any larger.


Leave these in the ground until late fall when colder weather sets in. 


You will need to dig into the ground to find all of your potatoes.  Harvesting onions will be much easier.

Here is one of the several baskets
that we enjoyed from the seeds we saved and planted.

And we just harvested a final crop of smaller tomatoes that were late “bloomers” just before the first freeze of the season.  Hope these will ripen soon.


You can make all of the compost you need for a small garden if you use it around and just below your seeds when you plant them.

To start, take a large plastic tote box and drill several large holes in the bottom for drainage.

Then punch or drill some smaller holes in the top – nail size holes are good. Next, select a shady place for the box and place it on top of a few bricks or flat rocks to allow drainage away from the box. 

Fill the box about one quarter with topsoil.   Start placing produce scrap from your kitchen in the box and mix with the topsoil.  As time goes on you may want to add a little more topsoil as well.  Continue this process over the winter and you will have some nice, rich compost by planting time.

Never add meat, fish, or poultry scrap to your compost tote, just fruit and vegetable scrap please!

And you may be pleasantly surprised to see several “volunteers” sprout in the garden from your compost as the season progresses.






So now you have gone through the entire garden to kitchen process.  If you want to try again next year, make sure you harvest new seeds from store bought produce as the seeds of your last effort may not do well a second time.

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