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Save the Seeds From these 6 Foods to Grow in Your Garden

Packets of seeds spilled out on a picnic table.
Mona Makela/Shutterstock

Now is a great time to stop throwing out the seeds from your produce and get them prepped and planted for gardening. You can save money on groceries by growing your own vegetable garden.

Some seeds grow better than others. Plants that are self- or open-pollinating are best for successful small gardening. Those that cross-pollinate require male and female plants to produce fruit.

The Best Seeds to Save

I love saving seeds and replanting them. Here are some foods with easy-to-save seeds:

  • Peppers (bell, hot, or pretty much any type)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans and Peas
  • Pumpkins and Squash
  • Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, and so on)

Some vegetables seed from the plants (flower pods, usually), rather than seeds. These, you have to start from purchased seeds or a whole plant, and then do a little more research on collecting seeds when it’s the right time. Some foods, like potatoes, you can grow from the food itself.

Once you have a garden, you can save the seeds from your own successful plants to ensure a good harvest next year. However, if you’re just starting out, saving seeds from the produce you already buy regularly will save you some money.

How to Prep and Plant Seeds

Saving seeds requires some know-how. Most seeds have to be dried out to prepare them for planting and growing, but that’s not the case with all of them. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the easy-to-use seeds we mentioned above.

Peppers

Peppers are definitely one of the easiest vegetables to regrow from seeds you collect from those you buy at the store. When you cut open a pepper, whether it’s a bell or a jalapeño, you’ll see a central stem full of seeds.

It’s simple to harvest these. All you have to do is brush them off onto a plate or paper towel, and then set them aside to dry. Once they’re dry, you can plant them.

You can follow online instructions about how to plants these, including how deep and far apart.

Tomatoes

Collecting tomato seeds takes a little more work than those from peppers. Because tomatoes are so juicy inside, their seeds are coated in a gel-like membrane. You have to get rid of this before you can do anything with the seeds.

Soak them in water for about 20 minutes, and then rub off the membrane. You can also let them sit in water for a few days to ferment. The fermentation process is stinky, but you’ll find floating seeds that aren’t viable you can toss. The good seeds can then be set out to dry before you plant them.

Cucumbers

You can follow the same instructions for cucumbers you did for tomatoes when it comes to prepping the seeds. They too have that filmy coating you have to remove before you can dry them out.

The Burpee website has excellent instructions on how to plant your cucumber seeds.

Beans and Peas

While it’s best to let pod plants brown on the vine before collecting and drying the seeds inside, you can’t do that when you purchase them at the grocery store. You can still collect the seeds and dry them, but it will take about a month and a half.

Once your seeds are ready to plant, you can follow the comprehensive instructions from The Old Farmer’s Almanac to plant your peas and properly harvest them when it’s time. For beans, Mother Earth News has great planting instructions.

Pumpkins and Squash

Whether you’re gutting a pumpkin to make a jack-o’-lantern or cutting a squash in half to bake, you should save the seeds. You can roast them for a yummy, healthy snack, or save them to plant in your garden and create your own pumpkin patch for Halloween.

Before you lay out your pumpkin and squash seeds to dry, clean them off. They might have a membrane, but it should be easy to remove. Once they’re dry, you can plant them.

Pumpkins can be a little finicky. They should be planted at a specific time and temperature. The Old Farmer’s Almanac once again has some great pumpkin-growing tips. When it comes to squash, some are summer, and some are winter, so it’s important to know which type you’ve got.

Melons

Not all melons are created equal. Watermelon seeds are easier to dry and prep than those from other melons, like cantaloupe. This is because watermelon seeds are ready to dry right away—just put them on a plate and let them dry for a few days. Then, you can just follow Burpee’s watermelon-growing instructions.

Cantaloupe and other melon seeds with fibers or membranes (like those on some squash seeds) have to be cleaned off before you can dry them. You can also use the water test (like you can with tomatoes) to pick viable seeds without leaving them to soak for weeks. Just drop them in some water. The seeds that sink to the bottom are the good ones—let those dry.

Check out this article from Gardener’s World for more instructions and tips on growing melons.


Whether you get it from the store or your own garden, it takes a little extra effort to harvest seeds from produce. However, not only will it save you money, but you’ll never be out of seeds—even if your local store is.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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