Seed Collecting And Saving – It’s That Time Of The Year Again

Save Your Money. Some heirloom seed can cost as much as $3.00 for 10 seeds. That is not cheap nor frugal.
Saving seed from this years crops and by trading seed with other Seed Savers next years seed cost will be $0.00 dollars.

Dry wet seeds like pepper, tomato, cucumber, melons and such on a paper plate. Once dry remove excess pulp materials and store your seed in ‘paper’ envelopes that have been labeled with seed type and year collected. Do not seal your envelopes. This will make it easier to share seeds with other seed savers.
Store your saved seeds in a cool dark place until needed next spring.

seed saving

Home Gardeners were perpetuating and improving vegetable varieties through seed selection long before there were commercial seed producers/sellers.
Garden plants are wind, insect or self pollinated.
Seed saved from self pollinated Crops are most likely to come back true to variety.
Biennial Crops do not bear seed the first year.
Hybrids do not come back true to variety from seed.

The art of saving seed has been practiced by Gardeners long before there were commercial seed producers. In fact, most of the vegetables and flowers we have today owe their existence to the fact that these early Gardeners, with an eye for quality, saved the seed of their best plants, sowed them the next year, and in this way improved the species.

In recent years, the responsibility for maintaining and improving vegetable seed has been assumed by seed companies. However, it is still possible for home Gardeners to save their own seed. To do so successfully, you must be familiar with the basics.

Plants in the Garden come from either seed or transplants. True seed possesses an embryo in a dormant state. Under the right conditions, it breaks dormancy and produces a plant based on its genetic makeup. Transplants, on the other hand, are living plants or plant parts that begin to grow under favorable conditions without benefit of an embryo. In this group are bulbs, tubers, corms, cuttings (“slips”) and whole living plants.

It is still common practice for home Gardeners to dig dahlia and gladiolus before the ground freezes. However, it is not so common for Gardeners to save the seed of flowers and vegetables. This is perhaps because seeds are relatively inexpensive and seed producers have a reputation for selling seed that germinates well and is true to the variety named on the package.

Before saving seed, consider the method of pollination, the time of seed bearing, whether the plant is a hybrid, and the manner of seed collection.

Pollination Methods There are three pollination methods of concern to the home Gardener. Air-borne, insect and self pollination. If the seed produced is to have the same genetic composition of its parents, it must be pollinated with pollen from the same variety. In the case of air-borne pollinated crops, there must be no other varieties within a mile shedding pollen at the same time. If there is, some of the harvested seed will result from a cross between these two varieties. The closer the varieties are located, the higher the percentage of crossing.

If a crop is insect pollinated, there should be 1/4 mile separating varieties. Otherwise, some of the seed saved may result from the crossing of the varieties located within this 1/4-mile radius.

Self pollinated crops offer the best opportunity for a home Gardener to save seed because the pollen is transferred directly to the stigma within the flower. Even though this occurs automatically, there is some pollen that escapes and can be transferred to an adjacent variety. To avoid this, separate varieties by a few rows of another crop.

These requirements are closely observed by commercial seed producers, who are much more concerned about trueness-to-variety than the average home Gardener. However, if home Gardeners totally ignore these guides, you will be disappointed in the results.

How Vegetables Are Pollinated
Air-borne pollen
vegetables
insect-borne pollination
vegetables
Self-pollinated
vegetables
Biennial
vegetables
Beets
Corn
Spinach
Swiss chard
Asparagus
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower

Celeriac
Celery
Chinese cabbage
Collards
Cucumber
Eggplant
Kale

Kohlrabi
Melons
Mustard
Onions
Parsley
Parsnips
Peppers

Pumpkin
Squash
Radishes
Rutabaga
Turnips

Beans
Chicory
Endive
Lettuce
Peas
Tomatoes
Beets
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Celeriac
Celery

Collards
Florence fennel
Kale
Kohlrabi

Leeks
Onions
Parsley
Parsnips
Radishes, winter
Rutabaga

Salsify
Swiss chard
Turnips

Biennial Root Crops Not all Garden plants produce their seed at the end of the growing season. The most noteworthy exception are the biennials. This group, which includes most of the root Crops, grows vegetatively the first season. To obtain seed, the roots are dug in the fall and stored between 32 and 45 degrees F through the winter. As soon as the weather permits, replant the roots to produce seed stalks and seed.

Harvesting Seed producers have developed some very ingenious equipment for harvesting, extracting and cleaning seed. However the home Gardener will have to do with available utensils. Seed is extracted from fruit after it ripens and before it rots.
Leave summer squash and cucumbers on the vine until after frost, just like winter squash and pumpkin. Separate the seed from its pulp and dry at room temperature.

Leave pod crops on the stalk or vine until the pod dries. Corn, Okra, Beans, Peas and such can be allowed to dry on their stalks and vines. Harvest before the seed is dispersed. Similarly, harvest seed heads after they dry but before dispersal.

Storage Once the seed is dried, gently hand rub to rid it of any chaff, then store in an envelope in a cool, dry, rodent free place. The seed will germinate best the following year. Thereafter, its germination percentage declines in accordance with the storage conditions, seed type and original seed quality. It is, therefore, best to replant every year and then select a few of your best plants for seed.

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8 responses to “Seed Collecting And Saving – It’s That Time Of The Year Again

  1. Viva la seeds! If we all grew even a single pot of our own food–what a wonderful world this would be! Happy Nesting.

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  2. Thanks for these tips. Seed collecting and plant cutting are an excellent way to save money…

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  3. chrismithonline

    Thanks for this – very useful information.

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  4. We were going to eat all the peas but a few pods got left behind and started to dry out. Do I take the peas out of the pod to complete the drying before storing them?

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    • Re sedrate – when peas, beans, okra pods and such are dry and began to split harvest them before they drop their seeds on the ground.
      In the event of wet weather, harvest and dry indoors on paper plates(s).

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      • I picked the two pods and set them on a ledge in my shed. Will that do or should I leave the next batch on the plants until they begin to split as you say?

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        • Re sedrate – What your doing will work fine as long as you can keep the mice or rats from eating your saved seeds 🙂
          Is 2 pods enough seed for next year?

          Happy Summer / Fall gardening

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          • No that won’t be enough, it just happened by accident, I just started gardening. But if it works, I’ll start saving seeds. Thank you so much for your advice.

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