Fall seed saving: Ideas for fall gardening projects for kids

Saving seeds is a great way to teach kids about sustainability and how early pioneers and farmers grew their crops from their own seed.

The weather is getting cooler, but there is still plenty of time to garden with kids.  It is time to harvest pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and other fall crops.  Another great fall gardening activity Michigan State University Extension recommends is to encourage your kids to save the seeds from their favorite flowers and vegetables plants. They can learn to store these seeds to plant in the garden next year. Saving seeds is a great way to teach kids about sustainability and how early pioneers and farmers grew their crops from their own seed. Seed saving is also a way to save money in the spring. Flower seeds can be harvested and the seed head can be dried whole and stored for the winter. Seeds from vegetables will need to be removed from the fleshy fruit part of the plant. After collecting seeds they are thoroughly dried and stored in an air tight container; be sure to label your seeds.

The following are tips from Organic Gardening magazine on how to store seeds:

  • Dry the seeds on newspaper for at least a week.
  • Write the names of the seeds on the newspaper.
  •  Seeds should be kept dry and cool.
  • Store seeds in air tight containers such as food storage bags or in mason jars.
  •  Storing the seeds in the refrigerator is ideal. Keep them dry by adding 2 tablespoons of powdered milk wrapped in a facial tissue then place the packet in the storage container.  You may also use silica gel. 
  • Replace the powdered milk packet or silica gel every five to six months.

A great idea for kids to save and dry seeds is by drying them on paper towels.  The seeds will stick to the paper towels and when it is time to plant them kids can tear off a piece of the towel and plant the seed attached to the paper towel.

Seeds will generally last about 3 years, but not all seeds with germinate, and some seeds are only viable for a year or two.  Experiment with different types of seeds, it will be a great activity for kids of all ages.

The University of Minnesota Extension and Colorado State University Extension have resources to learn more about seed saving.

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