At this time of year, most gardeners have just about finished harvesting the last of their summer vegetables, and the winter squash is ready to pick. Like most well intentioned vegetable gardeners, our plans often exceed our time, resulting in vegetables that grow way past prime eating size and ripeness. Not to worry. That unpicked vegetable has its own silver lining in the form of next year’s vegetable garden seeds.
This second harvest can be obtained by saving the overgrown, unpicked vegetables and fruits , drying them and saving the seeds. For my garden, I always have plenty of green bean seeds. Many of the beans become hidden under the leaves and swell to huge inedible pods. When the growing is done, I pull up all my overgrown bean plants, pick off the pods and set them aside until they are completely brown and dried. Then I pop out the seeds, store them in zip lock, labeled baggies and put them in a dry place until planting time the following season.
If you have an abundance of seeds, share them with your friends and neighbors. It’s rewarding to be able to utilize everything from the vegetable garden, whether in edible form or harvested in the form of seeds for next year. In this way, the plant’s life cycle becomes full circle.