Trying to grow a more self-sufficient garden? Learning how to save your own seeds is one of the easiest ways to have a more sustainable garden. It’s also a great way to preserve seeds from varieties of crops you really enjoyed. Learn how to save okra seeds from this year’s harvest to use for years to come!
Why Save Garden Seeds
First, why should you even care about saving okra seeds or other garden seeds? Isn’t half the fun of gardening choosing new seeds each winter to grow in spring and summer?
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While I fully agree with trying new seeds each year if possible, I also think that the 2020 gardening year brought up the importance of saving seeds. Many seed companies sold out of many of their seeds due to a renewed interest in gardening and perhaps even a bit of stockpiling.
I don’t want to be caught in a position again when I am limited in what I can grow because I can’t buy seeds. Saving seeds isn’t difficult. In fact, I have many tutorials on saving all kinds of garden seeds.
However, I had gotten a little slack in saving, always falling back on my ability to order more… until I couldn’t. Now, my seed saving efforts are in full gear, and if you’re looking for a place to save your seeds, check out my post on seed storage ideas.
Saving Heirloom vs. Hybrid Seeds
Ever wonder why there’s such an interest in growing heirloom seeds? Besides the fact that heirloom vegetables have a rich heritage that’s fun to explore, the seeds of heirloom plants can easily be saved year after year.
Hybrid varieties of plants have been developed for certain qualities, such as size and disease resistance. This is helpful if you struggle with pest problems or certain diseases. Unfortunately for seed saving, hybrid seed types don’t always make the best seed savers.
The qualities of these hybrid varieties don’t always carry over into the plants of their saved seeds. For example, if you grow a tomato that has been developed to be resistant to fusarium wilt, then there’s a chance the seed you save will not have that same resistance.
Basically, hybrid seeds can lose some of their developed qualities with each subsequent generation of saved seeds. This doesn’t mean that your saved hybrid tomato seeds won’t yield tomatoes. It just means that the tomatoes that plant produces may not be exactly like the parent plant.
Popular Heirloom Okra Varieties
- Emerald Okra– Used by the Campbell’s Soup Company in the 1950’s, this rich green okra variety has 7 inch pods and grow 5 to 8 feet tall.
- Hill Country Red Okra– From the hill country of south Texas, this okra has vibrant red pods that are great in the heat and best when picked small.
- Perkins Long Pod– I actually planted these this year and am excited to see them grow. This variety is high-yielding and works well for canning and preserving. (See how to freeze okra here!)
Saving Okra Seeds
If you’re looking to save okra seeds, then I have good news for you. They are hands-down one of the easiest seeds to save for next year’s garden. Here’s the process for how to save okra seeds:
- Begin by having your favorite variety of okra planted and growing during the summer. Be sure to note whether the okra is an heirloom or a hybrid variety.
- At the end of the season, leave 4 or 5 pods on the stems.
- Allow the pods to dry out until they are dry and brown. You may even see some separation at the top of the pod.
- Cut dried pods off the stems and over a paper towel or piece of paper, open up the pods and get out the dried seeds.
- Allow the seeds to sit out for a day or so, just to make sure they are good and dry.
- Store in a cool, dry place until ready to plant next year.
After the seeds are stored and put away, toss those dried okra pods into the compost and let them break down. This is a great way to let your garden go through the full life cycle!