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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Free Garden Seeds From Inside a Store-Bought Pepper

I've done this the last 2 winters, bought a red sweet pepper at the grocery store and saved some of the seeds for planting that spring. 

There are actually a few fruits and vegetables you can grow from produce purchases. I began my garlic with grocery store garlic, planting all the cloves from one head and multiplying over the years. I've planted sprouted potatoes, harvesting many times over what I planted. I've grown green onions in a cup of water on the windowsill from the leftover root end of purchased green onions. I've heard you can regrow Romaine lettuce and celery from their bases. Pumpkin, winter squash, and tomato seeds can be dried and saved to replant. And of course, there's always the avocado pit suspended with toothpicks partway in a bowl of water. My mother grew an avocado plant/tree for several years. It never grew large enough to be a tree. I knew someone who grew a pineapple plant from the crown of a fresh pineapple. She lived on Kauai and had the right climate to actually grow new pineapples on her pineapple plant grown from a crown.

With some of these plants, the variety you harvest might not look like the parent from which you took the seeds. I've found this to be true of winter squash seeds from market squash. Most of the peppers I grow from scavenged red pepper seeds are green or yellow at the time of my harvest. But I'm satisfied with the green or yellow ones.

Growing a garden dirt cheap is possible if you have a sunny spot in your yard and you're not terribly choosy about what you grow. Seeds and plant starts can be free -- remnants reclaimed from your trash or compost bucket.

Anyway, we've enjoyed our purchased red pepper for the winter months and now I've set aside my sweet pepper seeds for this summer's garden.


  1. Funny you should mention this. I've been listening to Ray Lovegrove's podcast, Radical Simple Living, on my walks recently. A couple days ago, in Episode 16, he mentioned that he does this as well (living in Sweden). And there was a whole discussion on this, a very long thread that I read through a while back, on the Permies forum. One person mentioned buying the 15 bean soup mix specifically to plant. I haven't so much but may have to try it as I run out of certain seeds. Definitely a money-saving way to garden!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Oh that sounds like a good podcast. I'll check that out.
      15 bean soup mix sounds like a great way to get a variety of seeds at a low cost. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Definitely a good way to get new plants. My father was a champion at this. Have you tried any seeds or plants that just don't work for propagation?

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      That's a nice thing to hear about your father. Hmm, I'd say planting seeds from grocery store winter squash has had spotty results. I have often would up with varieties that I didn't think I'd plant. What I have heard about seed-collecting from hybrid plants, like some popular garden tomatoes, the daughter plant is different from the parent plant. I still save some seeds from tomatoes and plant them, because there's always something I can use. I have heard that some dried beans for cooking have been heat treated in such a way (to kill larvae) that they have poor germination. I also realize that some varieties we can get from the grocery store may not be suited to grow in our own locales. In my cool summer area, varieties of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and corn that do well in my garden are often not ones that I find in markets. But I do think it's fin to experiment and find out for myself.

  3. It might be fun to see the differences between the parent plant and the one you grow. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I do like to experiment. even if the daughter plant differs from the parent one, I can still almost always use what I can harvest, so long as it has time to grow. The peppers I harvest rarely reach the "red" stage of ripeness, but I'm good with green or yellow peppers that I get from the red pepper seeds.


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