Harvesting Pepper Seeds: Information About Saving Seeds From Peppers

Harvesting Pepper Seeds: Information About Saving Seeds From Peppers

Seed saving is a fun, sustainable activity that is both fun and educational to share with children. Some veggie seeds “save” better than others. A good choice for your first attempt is saving seeds from peppers.

Pepper Seed Viability

When saving seeds, the rule of thumb ism don’t save seeds from hybrids. Hybrids are made up of deliberately crossing two different strains to create a super plant with the most desirable traits of the two parent plants. If you try to save the seed and reuse, you will likely end up with a product that has latent traits of the original parent plant but dissimilar to the hybrid from which you harvested the seeds.

When saving seed, choose open pollinated varieties, either cross or self-pollinated, rather than hybrids. Open pollinated varieties are often heirlooms. Cross pollinating produce are difficult to replicate from seed. These include:

  • Beet
  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Melon
  • Onion
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Pumpkin

These plants have two varied sets of genes. They require a much greater planting distance from each other so they do not cross pollinate, as in a popcorn variety of corn crossing with a sweet corn and resulting in less than desirable ear of corn. Hence, saving seeds from peppers and other self-pollinating veggies such as beans, eggplant, lettuce, peas, and tomatoes are more likely to result in offspring that is true to the parent.

How to Harvest Pepper Seeds

Pepper seed saving is an easy task. When harvesting pepper seeds, be sure to choose fruit from the most vigorous plant with the most delicious taste. Allow the chosen fruit to remain on the plant until it becomes completely ripe and begins to wrinkle. You must ensure that the pods you have chosen become fully mature for the maximum pepper seed viability; this may take several months.

Then remove the seeds from the peppers. Inspect them and remove any that are damaged or discolored, then spread them out on paper towels or newspaper to dry. Place the drying seeds in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Turn the seeds every couple of days to make sure the bottom layer is drying as well. After a week or so, check to see if the seeds are dry enough. Dry seeds will be quite brittle and will not dent when you bite them.

Proper Pepper Seed Saving

The key to maintaining pepper seed viability is in how it is stored; you must keep a constant temperature and eliminate any excess moisture. Correctly stored peppers seeds can last for many years, although the germination rate begins to wane as time goes by.

Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry area in temps between 35-50 F. (1-10 C). Store them in airtight plastic bags within a Tupperware container, for example, in the fridge. You can also store your seeds in tightly sealed glass containers, just keep the seed dry and cool.

A small amount of silica gel desiccant added to the container will aid in moisture absorption. Silica gel is sold in bulk at craft stores for drying flowers. Powdered milk can also be used as a desiccant. Use 1-2 tablespoons of dry milk wrapped in a piece of cheesecloth or facial tissue and tucked inside the container of seeds. Powdered milk is a viable desiccant for about six months.

Lastly, be sure to clearly label your seeds. Most pepper seeds look remarkably similar and it is easy to forget by the time planting time arrives. Label not only the name and variety, but also the date you collected them.

How To Save Pepper Seeds

When the growing season comes to an end and peppers are ripening, you may wonder how to save pepper seeds for next year. Saving pepper seeds is simple and can save you some money if you want to grow the same pepper varieties each year.

Our pepper seed saving method is easy, but there are some important tips you should know about. In this article, we will explain how we save pepper seeds for growing next year.

Pepper Geek participates in various affiliate programs, meaning links contained in this article may provide us a commission should you make a purchase on the linked website.

Watch Video:

How To Save Pepper Seeds

  • Choose Ripe Peppers
  • Remove Pepper Seeds
  • Dry Pepper Seeds
  • Store Pepper Seeds
  • Avoiding Seed Borne Disease

Pepper Growing and Harvest Information

Peppers are strictly warm-weather plants, and require at least 2 1/2 months to mature once started seedlings have been set outdoors. They will not produce where evenings are cool and are very tender to frost and light freezes. In cooler climates, use black plastic mulch and row covers to keep the peppers warm.

Recommended Varieties of Peppers

Peppers tend to be susceptible to mosaic, (a virus), and where it is a problem, select mosaic-resistant varieties: Keystone, belle Staddon’s Select Yolo Wonder.

Other good varieties are Ruby King Sweet Banana Calwonder.

Hot peppers: Hungarian Wax Hot Portugal Long Red Cayenne. For those who like hot peppers, the Scoville scale was created as a comparison tool for hot peppers. Remember if you want to cool down from a hot pepper go for some milk or sour cheese.

Soil for Growing Peppers

A sandy, well-drained loam is best, with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Add a well-balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or a favorite organic blend and work in well. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer should be avoided. It will promote foliage growth, but not peppers production.

Planting Peppers

Start peppers indoors about 1 month before the first frost, then set outdoors after the days and nights are warm, otherwise the plants yellow and stop growing if they are exposed to the cold weather. To start indoors, use pots at least 1 1/2″ wide to minimize shock, make a stockier plant, and encourage earlier production. Growers report that the following cold treatment of seedlings significantly improves yields and early growth: (1) When the first leaves appear, lower the soil temperature to 70F and ensure 16 hours of light with grow lamps (2) when the first true leaf appears, thin seedlings to 2-3 inches apart or transplant to 4″ pots (3) when the third true leaf appears, move the plants to a location with night temperatures of 53-55F keep there for 4 weeks (4) return the seeding to a location with an average temperature of 70F (5) transplant into the garden 2-3 weeks after all danger of frost has passed. Soil temperature should be at least 55-60F for transplanting, or the plant may turn yellow, become stunted, and are slow to bear. Some recommended feeding seedlings weekly with half-strength liquid fertilizer until transplanted.

In rows 2 feet apart, with 12 inches between the plants (Pepper plants do well planted close together). At planting time, mix about 2 tablespoons of well-balanced fertilizer in the planting holes and water well after planting. Grow hot peppers separately to prevent cross-pollination with sweet bell peppers. Except in the west, where pepper plants may be mostly pest free, use row covers immediately because pepper pests will be out.

Germination65 - 95 F
For growth70 - 85 F
Soil and Water
FertilizerMedium-heavy feeder high N rotted manure or compost some soils may need calcium.
Side-dressingApply at blossom time and 3 weeks later. Apply liquid seaweed 2-3 times per season. At blossom time, try spraying leaves with a weak Epsom salt mixture (1 teaspoon per quart) to promote fruiting.
pH5.5 - 7.0
WaterMedium - Heavy
Seed Planting Depth1/4"
Root Depth8 - 48"
Height24 - 36"
Space between plants
In Beds12"
In Rows12 - 24"
Space Between Rows18 - 36"
Average plants per person5 - 6
For sweet peppers, pick the first fruits as soon as they're usable in order to hasten growth for others. For storage peppers, cut the fruit with 1" or more of stem. For maximum vitamin C content, wait until peppers have matured to red or yellow colors.
First Seed Starting Date: 28 - 35 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date: 115 - 148 Days before first frost date
CompanionsBasil, carrot, eggplant, onion, parsley, tomato
IncompatiblesFennel, Kohlrabi

How Peppers Grow

Pepper is a decorative plant, about 2 1/2 feet tall with handsome leaves, and at blooming time, a display of pretty white flowers. An ideal vegetable for patio gardening, pepper can be mixed in flower borders or raised planters. If too many flowers form, the plant will naturally discard those that are not going to bear fruit.

Cultivating Peppers

Similar to eggplant peppers need constant soil moisture once growth begins. Hill up soil around the base of the stems gradually to give the stems added support when bearing the fruit. Use small stakes if necessary to keep plants heavy with fruit upright. Keep weeds away with shallow cultivation, or use mulches. Feed the plants again when flowers fade and fruits are forming. If the temperature rises above 95F, sprinkle plants with water in the afternoon to help prevent blossom drop.

Storage Requirements
Hot varieties are best stored dried or pickled. Pull the entire plant from the ground and hang it upside down until dried. Alternatively, harvest the peppers and string them on a line to dry. For sweet peppers, refrigeration is too cold and encourages decay.
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
45 - 55F90 - 95%2 - 3 weeks
Method Taste Shelf Life
CannedGood12 months
FrozenFair3 months
DriedExcellent12 months
PickledExcellent12+ months

Harvesting Peppers

When to Harvest Peppers

Peppers should be ready to harvest in approximately 70-80 days of ideal growing conditions. Sweet peppers are picked green, not fully ripe. They will feel firm and crisp when ready, and should not be pulled from the plant but cut with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Peppers will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks after picking before they start to shrivel. If left on the plant, peppers turn ripe red and the flesh is sweeter and contains more vitamins. If frost threatens, pull the plant and hang it in a cool place to allow peppers to ripen. Hot peppers should ripen fully on the vine to attain their bright red color and full flavor, then hang to dry.

To store a bumper crop first roast them or briefly blanch in steam, then freeze them either whole for stuffing, or chopped. Peppers are also easy to dry and will plump quickly if soaked in hot water. Dried peppers could also be ground for your spice rack. In addition, sliced peppers will also store much better in the refrigerator if dunked in a jar of vinegar first.

Pepper Pests

  • Margined blister beetles may appear in large quantities in warmer climates. These beetles are large with black and gray stripes and devour pepper foliage. Handpick them, and wear gloves to prevent skin irritation.
  • Pepper weevils can also be a serious problem in warm climates. Make sure to clean up fallen fruits daily to interrupt their life cycle. Adult pepper weevils can be trapped with sticky traps.

Pepper Diseases

The following diseases can affect peppers in warmer climates. These viruses are transmitted by thrips and aphids. They cause leaves to become thick and crinkled or narrow and stringy. The best defense is to select resistant varieties.

  • Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV)
  • Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CVM)
  • Potato Virus Y (PVY)

Storing Seeds in the Freezer for Long-term Storage

For long-term storage—or if you don’t have a basement or cupboard with consistent temperatures—consider freezing (completely dry) seeds in a glass jar. The refrigerator is second-best, since temperatures aren’t as consistent there.

Recovering Seeds from the Freezer or Refrigerator

This part is so important for keeping the quality of seeds!

To recover seeds from the freezer for use:

  1. Set the jar out on a kitchen table or shelf for 12 hours so it can reach room temperature. This will prevent moisture from condensing on the seeds. (Remember, moisture = enemy #1)!
  2. Expose the seeds to air by opening the lid for a few days before planting.

Refrain from moving seeds from the freezer to room temperature more than once, as each transfer will reduce the viability of the seeds.

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Seed Expiration Dates

Can I use old seeds past their “sell by” or expiration date?

Yes! Absolutely. As opposed to an expiration date, you’ll most often see “packed for” date on garden seed packages – such as packed for 2018. Don’t throw out or avoid planting seeds if you don’t use them by that date! The date represents when they will be the freshest, and most closely follow their listed germination rate, which is the percentage of seeds that successfully sprouted during trials at the seed company.

Over time, the germination rate may decline a bit, but most seeds can still be successfully used for many years thereafter. We continue to grow food from seeds that are three or four years past their “packed for” date all the time! Hence, the need for a good seed storage system. We hang on to old seed packages until they’re gone!

To overcome a potential decline in germination rate and thus less plants, simply sow a few extra “old” seeds when you are using them. However, note that some types of seeds hold up longer in storage better than others. For example, crops like carrots, parsnips, onions, and leeks are notoriously short-lived. Try to use those up more quickly!

And there you have it: the best seed storage system, ever!

With that, you can seed shop to your little hearts desire – and actually be able to find them all!

Want to learn more? In this article, you can find a list of the top 12 places to buy organic, heirloom, and non-GMO garden seeds. To browse our other seed-starting supplies, click here! If you are new to growing from seed, or are simply curious to learn more of our tips and tricks for seed starting, you may enjoy this article: “Seed Starting 101: How to Sow Seeds Indoors”

I hope you find this new seed storage system as handy, easy, and fun as we do. Please feel free to spread the seed-love and share this post. Seed addicts, list-makers, and organizers

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How to Prepare Jalapeno Seeds for Planting

Growing your own jalapeño peppers in the garden allows you to enjoy their spicy kick in homemade salsa and other recipes that call for this fiery vegetable. Like all pepper varieties, jalapenos are a warm-season vegetable that matures during the heat of summer. The seeds must be started indoors in most areas in order to ensure the growing season is long enough for the peppers to mature. Proper seed preparation must be done at the time of harvest if you want to plant the jalapeno seeds and grow more plants in the future.

Slit open mature jalapeno peppers with the tip of a knife. Shake the seeds out into a small bowl. Set the remaining pepper aside for use in your favorite recipe.

  • Growing your own jalapeño peppers in the garden allows you to enjoy their spicy kick in homemade salsa and other recipes that call for this fiery vegetable.
  • Proper seed preparation must be done at the time of harvest if you want to plant the jalapeno seeds and grow more plants in the future.

Fill the bowl with lukewarm water and swish the seeds around, loosening any pulp attached to the seeds. Seeds that are not viable also float. Skim the floating plant matter from top of the water then pour the contents of the bowl through cheesecloth to strain out the remaining water.

Line a baking sheet or tray with wax paper. Spread the jalapeno seeds out on the wax paper and place them in a warm, well-ventilated room for two to three days to dry.

Place the seeds in an envelope and label it with the seed variety and year harvested. Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant the peppers. Alternately, place the jalapeno seeds in a sealed glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

  • Fill the bowl with lukewarm water and swish the seeds around, loosening any pulp attached to the seeds.
  • Spread the jalapeno seeds out on the wax paper and place them in a warm, well-ventilated room for two to three days to dry.

Check the seeds for germination 10 to 15 days before spring planting. Wrap 10 seeds in a damp paper towel then place the paper towel in a plastic bag. Set in a warm area for 14 days then open the bag and towel to check the seeds for germination. If more than five of the seeds are sprouted with visible roots, the jalapeno seeds are viable for planting.

When planting the peppers in spring, provide plenty of bottom heat to the germination pots. Jalapeno peppers germinate best at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Only use seeds from nonhybrid pepper varieties. Jalapenos labeled as heirloom or open-pollinated produce true seed.

Wear latex gloves when handling jalapeno seeds, as the oils on the seeds can be irritating. Remove the gloves or wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or face.

Watch the video: Growing Peppers Avoid Mistakes when Collecting SEEDS to Harvest EASY u0026 Grow GREEN Red Purple Yellow