It’s harvest time, and that means it’s also time to start saving some seeds for next year’s garden! Here’s why you should consider saving your own seeds.
Many people now just purchase new seeds every year from the store – or buy already sprouted seedlings. But seed saving is a tradition worth reviving in the garden. The joy of growing a plant that has fully adapted to your specific region is a unique experience. Another great reason to save your own seeds is to preserve a unique variety of plant that is hard to find.
As an organic gardener, you likely find yourself growing your seeds for food and not for seed most of the time. I like to support other seed savers and reputable seed companies instead, like Seed Savers Exchange or Johnny’s Selected Seeds. But sometimes, your favorite seed company may stop carrying a specific variety that you love. For example, in the video below, Lynn from The Living Farm explains why she started saving seeds from her favorite Firecracker lettuce:
If you are interested in saving your own seeds, the first step is to figure out what type of seeds you are starting from so you can have clear expectations for the seed saving journey. So many people have asked me about which seed varieties are best for their garden and safe for their family. Seeds are wonderful packets of living history that with the right care and understanding can yield so much! But knowing what you’re saving is key to a positive seed saving experience.
Heirloom (or open pollinated) seeds are one of the best seeds to save. They are genetically steady and will continue to produce seeds and plants that are like the original seed.
On the other hand, hybrid seeds are a cross between two inbred parents. This is most often done in a tech lab or a controlled environment. This controlled cross will allow scientists to predict the traits of the offspring. When searching for seeds, generally you will find F1 seeds (first generation hybrids). These are an adventure to save. They have recessive genetics that will make for surprises in the generations to come!
Depending on which type of plant you are saving seeds from, there are many different approaches. For example, with things like lettuce, radishes, or herbs, you can simply allow for your plants to naturally go to seed – just make sure that you collect and store the seeds soon afterwards!
With fruiting plants, like tomatoes or peppers, you can just remove some seeds from a ripe fruit before eating, rinse them, and allow to dry completely before storing.
A great place to store your seeds is in the freezer, as they will generally last much longer there. Otherwise, a cool, dry and dark room should do.
Pick one of your favorite plants from your garden this year, and try saving some seeds!
And if you would like to see what happens in the Firecracker saga, sign up for the free 2016 season of the High Performance Garden Show. This real time gardening show is a great place to learn organic, weed free, productive and organic gardening techniques.