6 Steps to Save Pepper Seed

Many gardeners are getting large pepper harvests in August. Maybe you grew jalapeños or sweet bananas and are pickling them, or Aji Dulce spice peppers and are drying them, and perhaps you’re freezing Carolina wonders. Whatever the case, you might also want to save pepper seed. It’s a simple process. Peppers are an excellent crop for beginner seed savers.

Consider Isolation Distances

Peppers will sometimes cross-pollinate. Meaning that if you want to save seed from a Brazilian Starfish (pitanga) hot pepper (pictured above) and have it produce the same peppers next year, you need to keep them isolated from the other peppers in your garden. 

We recommend you isolate sweet varieties by 150 feet and hot and sweet varieties by 300 feet. Another technique you may want to try is hand pollination. You can keep your peppers from crossing by covering blossoms with pollination bags and then hand pollinating them, ensuring they are only pollinated with the peppers you wish.

Of course, we have also discussed promiscuous pollination’s advantages on the blog. No law says you can’t save seed from peppers that weren’t perfectly isolated. You may end up with peppers that display little change from their parent, or you could end up with a fantastic cross between those Brazilian Starfish and the habaneros in the bed next door, but that’s part of the fun!

Consider Population Size

You can get viable seeds from a single pepper plant. However, to preserve genetic diversity and a variety for years to come, you should aim to save seeds from 5 to 20 plants each year.  

Harvest the Peppers When Fully Mature

Harvesting to save seed isn’t the same as harvesting to eat or preserve. You want your peppers to mature fully, which may be about two weeks after you usually harvest. They should be fully ripe in color, either red, purple, or yellow, depending on the variety, and beginning to soften.

If frost threatens before the peppers appear to be fully mature, pull the whole plant. Shake the dirt off the roots and hang your plant upside down in a cool, dry location. A garage or outbuilding may be suitable for this. Most of the peppers will finish maturing. 


Work in an area with good ventilation. Especially if you’re dealing with very hot varieties, it may be best to wear gloves to process your peppers and avoid touching your hands and face. If you’re doing a lot of peppers, it may also be necessary to work in a dust mask or respirator.

One of the easiest ways to access the pepper seeds is to cut around the top and pull it out, using the stem as a handle. Then you can gently scrape off the seeds with a knife or your fingers. Rinse your pepper seeds and remove any unwanted material.

If you’re working bare-handed, wash well with soap and warm water.


Next, dry your seeds on paper, paper towels, coffee filters, or dehydrator screens (don’t put them in the dehydrator). They will need to dry for several days out of direct sunlight. When they’re fully dry, you should be able to snap one in half with your fingers. If it isn’t dry, it will bend instead of easily snapping.

Store Properly 

Once completely dry, store pepper seeds in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. If stored properly, they should easily last for three years, giving you many future pepper harvests!

Saving pepper seed is easy! Follow these steps and have quality, viable seeds to start your crop next spring. 

Quick Organic Pest Control

Gardening can be a lot of fun, and it can also be a bit heartbreaking and difficult. It’s never fun to see your beans devoured by bean beetles, find that your broccoli is full of cabbage worms, or notice a tomato hornworm has taken a big bite out of your tomato. On the blog, we’ve discussed integrated pest management and many preventative strategies like resistant crops, row cover, attracting beneficial insects, and crop rotation. Today, we’ll talk about quick organic pest control solutions for those of you who are knee-deep aphids right now.

Quick Organic Pest Control Solutions

Getting rid of pests is challenging, but you can use a few methods to get them back under control. Most methods work best when you catch problems early. Check your garden regularly for signs of pest issues like curling leaves, holes in leaves, slimy trails, and eggs or insects on the underside of leaves.


No one wants to hear this, but handpicking is a decent option for some larger pests like tomato hornworms and potato beetles. Just put on some gloves and grab a bucket of soapy water to drop them in. The soap breaks the surface tension, so the insects sink to the bottom and drown.

Blast Off the Insects

This method doesn’t work with all insects, but sometimes all you need is the water hose. Try using a strong stream of water to blast off insects like aphids. 

Remove and Burn Heavily Infested Plants

I always hate pulling plants, but sometimes it can allow your other plants to thrive. If you have one plant or patch of a crop that’s heavily infested, it may be worth using it as a trap crop. Remove it and burn it to kill the insects.

Check the SESE Crop Guides

Our crop guides have some great information for dealing with crop-specific pests. For example, did you know that you can trap squash bugs by placing boards around the base of plants? Squash bugs will hide under the boards at night, and you can collect them in the morning. Find that helpful tip and other great information in the SESE Squash, Pumpkin, & Zucchini Growing Guide.

You can find all of our guides under the Growing Guide Section of the website.

quick organic pest control solution (aphids)Look for the OMRI Label

Yes, some pesticides are organic. When looking at pest solutions, you’ll want to check for the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) label. Products with these labels are naturally derived and allowed for use in certified organic farming operations.

While these products are organic, they aren’t without their downfalls. Many products affect beneficial insects the same way that they affect pests. Also, just because they’re organic doesn’t mean they’re completely safe. You still should avoid ingesting large amounts or letting children handle them.

Here are a few of the organic pesticides available and how they work:

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

This grayish powder is made from crushed fossilized diatoms (single-celled algae). While completely safe for humans to handle, it’s very abrasive and will scratch and scuff the exoskeleton or soft body of insects that come into contact with it. This causes them to dehydrate and die. 

It works well against insects like flea beetles, aphids, slugs, worms, and mites. Unfortunately, it doesn’t discriminate, meaning it also kills lacewings, ladybugs, bees, and butterflies. 

Also, because insects have to come into contact with it, you’ll need to apply it fairly thickly, covering your whole plant. You also need to reapply every time that it rains. 

Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)

This naturally occurring soil bacteria is available in OMRI-certified liquid sprays. It’s toxic to several types of insects including butterflies, moths, and skippers, flies, and beetles. Some strains of the bacteria are more specific. 

Again, it has the downside of affecting other beneficial insects that come into contact with it. It’s great for getting rid of cabbage moths and worms but could also kill swallowtails, so use it sparingly and appropriately. It also needs to be reapplied after it rains.

Neem Oil

Neem oil naturally occurs in the seeds of neem trees. It has a garlic/sulfur smell and is used to combat various pests, including Mexican bean beetles, mealy bugs, fungus gnats, Japanese beetles, nematodes, and thrips. It’s also used to kill certain plant fungal diseases.

Neem oil works as a repellent because of its bitter taste and strong smell. It also interferes with insects’ hormone systems making it difficult for them to reproduce. 

It’s considered one of the safer pesticides for beneficial insects as it only affects insects that ingest it or are directly sprayed. So if you spray your beans, it will affect the bean beetles feeding on their leaves but not a butterfly landing on the leaf.


Pyrethrins are pesticides derived from naturally occurring pesticides found in chrysanthemum flowers. They control various insects indulging squash bugs, cucumber beetles, ants, and mosquitoes.

These pesticides are often considered non-toxic, but they aren’t harmless. It can irritate human skin, cause illness if ingested, and kills beneficial insects. Pyrethrin is also extremely toxic to fish, amphibians, and other aquatic life. Never use pyrethrin near a creek, storm drain, or other waterways.

These are just a few of the organic pesticides and methods for dealing with pests in the vegetable garden. Remember, prevention and catching pests early makes a huge difference in effectiveness!

4 Unusual Perennials to Plant This Fall

We’ve discussed what to plant this fall quite a bit on this blog. You may have seen one of our last posts about great heirlooms for the fall garden and currently be sowing or transplanting radishes, carrots, beets, cabbages, and other crops into your plot. These traditional crops often make up the backbone of the fall garden and are a good part of any food storage you put up for winter. At SESE, we also ship out some perennial plants each fall. Similar to many flower bulbs, these plants do best when planted in the autumn before your first frost.

All of these plants ship in the fall and include planting instructions. None of this information is meant to diagnose or treat any condition.



Once common throughout eastern woodlands, goldenseal is now believed to be one of the most at-risk medicinal plants in the United States and is believed to be at high risk of extinction in many parts of its range. 

Goldenseal’s decline is largely caused by over-harvesting and habitat destruction and is on the Appendix 2 list of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). When you plant goldenseal in your woodlands, you’re helping to ensure this specie’s long-term survival. 

Historically, herbalists have used goldenseal to treat various ailments especially inflamed mucous membranes. It was used in gargles for sore throats, topically to treat skin irritations and infections, as an eyewash, and internally to treat UTIs, ulcers, and digestive issues.

There’s also some evidence to suggest that goldenseal has a high resistance to fungal pathogens and may help reduce disease spread in forest settings. Ginseng growers will often include it in their plantings for this reason. 

In the wild, goldenseal grows on forest slopes, open woodlands, and along streams. Plant goldenseal rhizomes in the fall in a spot that receives about 75% shade. A mature plant may be divided three to five times.


Like goldenseal, ginseng is disappearing from the woodlands of North America. For almost 300 years, it has been harvested and exported to Asia, often in significant quantities. One of America’s first millionaires, John Jacob Astor, made part of his fortune exporting ginseng

Herbalists highly favor wild ginseng over cultivated ginseng. Interestingly, wild ginseng shows exponentially higher levels of the compound ginsenoside, which is believed to have numerous medicinal benefits.

Traditionally, herbalists often used this plant as a “cure-all,” believing it helps the body adapt to stress. Many thought ginseng could treat various conditions, including depression, nausea, tumors, fatigue, diabetes, ulcers, and more. Read more about this herb before using it on your own.

Today, ginseng is on the Appendix 2 list of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), threatened by over-harvesting and habitat destruction. You can help ensure its survival by planting it in your woodlands.

Plant ginseng in the fall from seeds or roots. It thrives on northern-facing slopes in dense deciduous forest. You can harvest roots can after four to seven years. Growing in conjunction with goldenseal may help prevent disease issues.


These perennial alliums add a bit of gourmet flair to any garden. Griselle or grey shallots are highly sought after by chefs, home cooks, and foodies. They have a distinctive rich, earthy smell and a mild, umami flavor. 

Plant shallots in the fall, like garlic. They’re easy to grow, low maintenance, and typically offer excellent yields. They produce best when you keep them weeded and watered during the spring and summer. Harvest when the tops fall over. 

Egyptian Walking Onions

Egyptian walking onions get their name from the unique way they reproduce. These onions develop bulblets on top of their stalk, which produce new, small stalks. Eventually, the bulblets and new stalks become so heavy that the onion top tips over, placing the sets against the ground and replanting themselves! The way they plant themselves gives them the appearance of walking across your garden. 

These incredible onions can be grown throughout North America, thriving in USDA zones 3 through 9. Not only are they fun to grow, but walking onions are also the ones you want if you always want to have onions. They tend not to produce much their first year, but after that will keep you in a steady supply.

Harvest bulbs in the fall and winter and harvest green onions selectively during their growing period. Plant them in an area you intend to keep them for a long time.

As gardeners, many enjoy adding another heirloom bean to our list of favorites or trying a different variety of tomatoes each year. As we try new crops, we learn and grow alongside our garden. These four unusual perennials are a great way to expand your skills as gardeners, seed savers, home cooks, and herbalists. 

Saving the Past for the Future