Seed Saving

Seed Saving

Every year we grow our chillies from seed. For the chillies we sell as plants, we buy seed in from DEFRA approved suppliers as this guarantees that the chilli plants will be true to variety.

The best ever germination rates we have ever had, have been from SIMPSON SEEDS where we obtained a fantastic 96% from their seeds. Utterly brilliant.

However we also save seeds from ripe pods for growing in the next season. If they are only to be used in cooking, it doesn't matter if they are hybrids. Another benefit of hybrids is that they can be healthier and more insect-damage resistant than their parent plants.

If you grow your chillies in isolation ie away from other varieties AND with additional protection such as netting to stop insect pollination, you can collect the seeds from the pods on these plants and be reasonably confident that the plants will come true to form next season.  
Capsicum Pubescen (Rocoto) varieties will not cross pollinate with the other species of chillies.  

There are some general tips for Seed Saving

  • Save seeds from pods that are fully mature – this depends on the variety. Usually this is when the chillies are red but it could also be orange, purple, brown, yellow or black!
  • Do not collect seeds from immature pods, misshapen, cracked pods or those with insect damage.
  • Save seeds from the best looking pods on each plant
  • Seeds collected from F1 varieties will result in hybrids (the F1 means First Generation Hybrid)

If you have a dehydrator, then drying seeds is easy. However, if you do not...

1) Select a mature pod

2) Slice the pod in half and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds. We recommend wearing gloves at this point (because if you accidentally rub your eye, you will certainly regret it!). Scrape the seeds onto kitchen towel as this is a good way of removing any initial moisture.

3) At this point, you can inspect the seeds and remove any which are damaged, cracked, mis-shapen or discoloured. Use another piece of kitchen towel to further dry the pods.

4) We use a polystyrene sheet to dry the seeds. However a large paper bag is also good. Do not put the seeds in the bag but on the top.
Put the sheet in a position which is warm but out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks. An airing cupboard is a good place. We do not have an airing cupboard, so we dry our seeds on shelves in the kitchen.
You will need to turn the seeds over every few days to make sure that the bottom of the seeds are exposed to airflow.  The idea is to dry the seeds evenly.

5) To test whether a seed is dry, select one and bend it with a pair of tweezers. If it bends easily, it is not dry enough.

Storing Seeds

Once your chilli seeds are dry, we recommend storing them away from areas of humidity.
Bag and label the seeds (they all look pretty similar with the exception of any Rocoto's which will have black seeds!). Water tight plastic envelopes are often used.

If you want to keep your seeds for several years, it is possible to store the seeds in a watertight plastic container and keep them in the bottom tray of your fridge. This slows down the seeds metabolism.

We tend to dry the seeds and use in the next season, so we keep our seeds in small paper bags which are sealed and labelled.  We also re-use plastic seed bags from previous seasons.  We then keep all the seeds in a cardboard box which is then stored in a cool, dry place.
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