Eggplant is a popular vegetable crop grown all over the world, and it can be a rewarding experience to collect your own seed from ripe eggplants. The key to successful gardening begins with healthy seeds that are properly stored in order to ensure their viability for later planting.
When to Harvest Eggplant Seeds?
The process of seed collection begins with choosing healthy plants that lack any visible signs of disease. From the bush, select 2-3 medium-sized fruits that maintain the typical color and shape for the specific variety. Good, mature eggplant seeds come from overripe fruit, so the chosen fruits are left to hang on the bushes until after the first frost when they become soft and brown. It is possible to pluck them earlier and allow them to ripen indoors, but doing so will result in lower-quality planting material than collected from fruit hanging on a bush.
How to Collect Eggplant Seeds
Eggplant seeds are ready for harvest when the fruit is fully mature. It is important to select healthy fruits, free from diseases and pests. When harvesting eggplant seeds, it is important to take care not to damage the fruits during collection as this can affect their germination potential and seedling vigor.
- Cut open the eggplant fruit and scoop out the seeds.
- Put them in a container filled with water, stirring to separate the good seeds from the debris.
- Discard the debris, then pour the remaining seeds into a sieve and wash them gently in more water to remove any clinging fruit.
- Spread out the seeds on paper or cloth so they can dry thoroughly (a few days).
- Once dry, place the seeds in paper bags or envelopes and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Things You Will Need for Harvest Seeds:
- Eggplant fruits
- A large bowl or container
- Dry paper or cloth
- Paper bags
After harvesting the seeds, fruits should not be eaten because they become poisonous when overripe. Overripened fruits accumulate solanine, which is a dangerous substance.
Selection Seeds for Storage
Select healthy, dark-colored seeds with the hardiest coats. The coat should be smooth and well-rounded; any discoloration or unevenness can indicate that the seed is not viable. Store only the highest quality seeds for future sowing. Eggplant seeds can also be stored in paper bags or envelopes if necessary. Make sure to label the bags with the type of seed, date of collection, and other relevant information.
Conditions and Terms of Seed Storage
For best results, store harvested eggplant seeds in a cool, dark place. Temperatures should be between 40–50°F (4–10°C). The humidity should remain low (around 60–70%).
Eggplant seeds that were harvested last year have a higher germination rate than older ones. Although they can be stored for up to 5 years, their germination rates decrease yearly.