Seed Saving Guide | Heirloom Seed Saving Tips & Group Discussion

Congratulations on your choice to become a seed saver! By engaging this ancient art form you are investing in your own future and protecting the genetic diversity of the plants that nourish us. Although successful seed saving requires much greater diligence and care than simply harvesting edibles, a single season’s worth of careful seed saving can provide you with several years worth of viable seeds. Additionally, seeds saved from your home garden are likely superior to similar varieties purchased commercially as they are already accustomed to your climate and growing medium, and are adapted to local pests:

 
 
 
 
 
Getting Started...
 
     
 

Garden Planning

 
 

When planning a garden for both food and seed saving, some consideration must be given to the layout and timing of your garden to ensure viable, healthier seeds resulting from breeding between plants of a common species.

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Seed Cleaning

 
 

Following collection of seeds at the end of the season, most varieties need to undergo seed cleaning to prepare them for storage and reduce the potential impact seed borne diseases can have on the next generation of plants.

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Seed Testing

 
 

Germination rates naturally vary from species to species, but there are some general guidelines to consider when doing a testing.

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After you have collected seed, and are considering long term storage, you might find it helpful to conduct germination testing to determine the viability of your seed if considering for planting, or to test the viability of a seed that has been in storage.

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When saving seed, it is helpful to understand the plant relationships

 
     
 
   

Video instruction for saving seeds...

     
   
 

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Why Should You Save Seeds?

The easiest seeds to save are open-pollinating, non-hybrid annuals. They complete their entire life cycle within one season and do not require attention during an overwintering period as biennials can. Biennials require more work and commitment. These plants do not send up seed stalks until the second season. Biennials include beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, parsley, parsnips, rutabaga, salsify, Swiss chard, and turnips.

Plants that are not self-pollinating can cross-pollinate; therefore, it is best to grow only one variety of a plant from which you want to save seed that season. If two varieties of spinach bloom near each other, the resultant seed is likely to be a cross between the two. Different varieties of peppers should be separated by 500 feet to avoid cross-pollination. Melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash need even more personal space--at least a half-mile is required.

Do not save seed from hybrid varieties if you want plants like the parents. Seeds from hybrid varieties produce a mix of offspring, many of which may have different characteristics than the parent. Seed from hybrid vine crops is often quite variable also - squashes, cucumbers, melons and pumpkins often cross-pollinate with other genetically compatible varieties. Unless pollination has been strictly controlled, strange hybrids often result in the next generation.

 

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