Agata has been saving seeds for a few years now, but like so many tasks in the garden this was my first time. It was a remarkably simple process really - by this point in the summer most of the plants had gone to seed, and in most cases, it was just a matter of snapping off the seed pods, and carefully shaking out the seeds into a bag and labeling them. If the seed pods weren't ripe yet we brought the plant home to hang dry.
(bachelor's buttons, also known as cornflower)
The seeds that are good quality are heavier and fall to the bottom, and the ones that are not mature enough or bad in some way float to the top. We spread the good seeds out on some paper towel to let them dry, and then packed them away for next year. Not pretty, but effective.
Beans and peas were easier. We made sure to save some of the beans on the vine, letting them get thick and woody and dry out. Saving the seeds just involved collecting the varieties we liked, shaking out the beans at home and spreading them out to dry and cure.
We tried lots of different varieties of tomatoes in the garden last year, and made sure to plant each variety far enough away from the rest that they wouldn't cross pollinate, so the seeds would breed true the next year. Of course we can't know for sure if it worked, but I wouldn't mind trying some made-in-our-garden hybrids, either.
We saved seeds from the plants that had worked well in our garden this year. I like the idea of saving the same strains of plants, year to year, as well as trying out new ones. One of the things I'm really loving about community gardening is that the garden itself will stay the same, even if we move in the spring. Planting the garlic felt like a promise - after the snow, spring will come and we can do it all over again. I'm jazzed.
As a side note, we're still in the market for a black tomato variety we love: any suggestions?