How to Preserve Strawberry Seeds Properly
The strawberry is easy to grow for home gardeners from seed. When you choose a non-hybrid "heirloom" variety, the seeds will produce fruit with the most dominant features of their parent. Store the seeds carefully so you can plant and enjoy both strawberries and more generations of seeds, following these guidelines.
Step 1: Plant and Grow a Crop of Strawberries
Plant your strawberry seed stock plants or seeds in slightly acid soil with a pH below 6.5, and harvest most of the strawberries for eating.
Step 2: Leave Some Berries to Go to Seed
Leave about 10 percent of your strawberries to mature on the vine, until they are dark red and very spongy to the touch. Pick these berries while wearing snug latex surgical gloves.
Step 3: Remove the Seeds from the Berries
There are 2 methods to safely release the strawberry seeds from the berries. You can pulp the berries between your fingers over a large flat aluminum pie plate to rub the seeds off the outer skin. An alternative is to crush the strawberries into a fine mesh sieve, retaining the seeds in the sieve itself. Wash the strawberry seeds to loosen as much pulp as you can before starting the drying process.
Step 4: Dry Out the Seeds
Place the seeds on wax paper on flat baking sheets in a warm spot away from direct light. Separate the seeds from each other on the trays as much as possible. The seeds will be fully dried when they are an ivory color and have no pulp clinging to them, and will not stick to each other.
Step 5: Brush the Seeds into Envelopes for Storage
Use the fine-bristled small brush to push the seeds into paper envelopes. Seal and date them, and write the strawberry seed type that is inside. You can store these seeds for up to 1 year before using.
Step 6: Germinate Your Harvested Seeds in Spring
In the spring, about 4 weeks before the final frost, plant your strawberry seeds in purchased potting soil with just a little peat moss. Spread a very few seeds onto the soil surface in each container, and cover them with crumbled potting soil. Place the seeded pots in direct sunlight. Water with mist from a sprayer, and transplant the strawberry seedlings into the garden when seedlings show 3 or more mature leaves.
Step 7: Transplant Strawberry Seedlings
Choose a southward site with a moderate slope to promote drainage. Prepare the soil by tilling and adding compost to bring the soil to a low acid-range pH. When the soil has warmed to 50 degrees F. (10 C.), set the seedlings into the garden. Plant them in rows at a distance of 3 feet from each other, with 18 inches between plants in the row.
Step 8: Harvest More Strawberry Seeds
Continue to harvest strawberries for seed every 2 years, as the plants generally remain viable for that length of time.