The Q&A Archives: Saving pepper seeds

Question: I have an unusual open pollinated pepper variety and I'd like to save seeds from it. What's the best way to do this? Louis Petrosky Madison, IL

Answer: Peppers are one of the easier vegetable seeds to save, says David Cavagnaro, garden manager at the Seed Savers Exchange's Heritage Farm in Decorah, IowA. Although peppers are mostly self pollinated, some crossing can occur. To protect the variety you want to save from cross pollination, either separate it by 250 feet from any other peppers or grow three or four plants of it in a tightly sealed grow tunnel covered with a spunbonded row cover, he explains. Once about six pepper fruits have set, you can remove the grow tunnel and tag the fruits. Harvest the peppers when they turn color and the flesh becomes soft. Place the seeds on a paper plate and let them dry, out of full sun, until they're brittle when folded between your fingers, they should break easily. Store the dried seeds in a sealed glass jar in a cool place such as a basement or in the freezer. Pepper seeds will remain viable for four to five years in a basement and for up to 10 years in a freezer, say Cavagnaro.

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