Why And How To Save Seeds In Your Own Garden
Seed savers have been around for thousands of years. In fact, before commercially available seeds were a thing, gardeners and farmers have been saving them and other reproductive materials from vegetables, grain, herbs, and flowers to be used for the next planting season.
If you’re a home gardener, you’ll want to save seeds from your own garden plants as a frugal and sustainable easy way of keeping your garden alive and growing year after year. Today, we’ll be going through some tips to help you get started.
Reasons For Saving Seed From Your Garden
- It Saves You Money. Let’s face it, some home gardeners actually started with the intent of growing their own healthy food. Today, seed packets can cost up to $30 each. And if you intend to grow a diverse garden, then the prices can easily shoot up. If you want to push your frugal ways even further, then knowing how to save seeds from your own vegetable garden can and will save you money.
- You Can Keep Growing Your Favorite Variety. It’s not always easy to find your favorite variety on the market. And the truth is commercial seed producers tend to base their production on the number of seed packets they sell every year. If your favorite pepper doesn’t sell well, you’re less likely to find them in the catalog.
- You Can Preserve Genetic Diversity. There are plant varieties that are often not available from a commercial seed catalog because they are only grown by local producers. By saving the seed from these varieties, you can maintain better diversity and prevent them from disappearing completely.
- You Can Grow Crops that are Well-Adapted to Your Garden. Your crops are especially adapted to the conditions in your garden—from the sunlight, soil pH, and drainage, to the nutrients and minerals present in your garden. Saving the seeds of your own crops ensures that you will have a successful and thriving garden in the coming years.
- You Can Grow Crops that are of Consistent Quality. One of the key aspects of seed saving is picking the seeds from the best fruits and flowers that have grown in your garden. This means you have control over the quality of the crops you can grow including qualities such as germination, ripening time, flavor, storage, disease resistance, and color.
Knowing What Seed to Save Matters
Before saving any seed from your garden, you have to consider which type is better suited for this purpose. Collecting seed from self-pollinating plants are the best choice for seed saving. These have flowers that don’t need any special treatment before storage. Heirloom varieties and open-pollinated seed are also great options since they set seed that grow and produce plants similar to the parent plant.
If you’re after crop consistency, then it’s best to collect seed from cross-pollinated plants as well as hybrid plants. This is because there’s no best way of telling if you’re going to produce good crops from them until the next harvest season comes along.
When it comes to the kind of crops you can save seeds from, the easiest ones are peas, beans, lettuce, tomato plants (especially heirloom tomatoes), and peppers. You can easily gather vegetable seeds from these and the prep-work needed is simple as well. For flowers and ornamentals on the other hand you can save the seeds of calendula, marigold, morning glory, and poppy.
How to Save Seed from Your Garden
Knowing how to save good seeds from your garden requires some critical steps to ensure success. First, you need to make sure that you have enough seeds. Determine the amount of crops or plants you want to grow and set aside the appropriate amount of seeds. Make sure as well to set aside a little extra to account for seeds that might not germinate.
Next, clean and dry the viable seeds. Some seeds such as tomato varieties have a gelatinous coating or gel sac. Wash off any residue of vegetable flesh and then lay the seeds out in a single layer on a paper towel (paper plate, coffee filter, parchment paper) to dry.
Be patient as this may take several weeks depending on the size of the seed you are saving to get rid of the excess water contained in the seeds to keep from creating a layer of mold within your saved seeds. For seeds you get from pods or beans, drying and cleaning is not necessary.
After making sure that you have completely dry seeds, you can now package each variety in a paper envelope or plastic bags made for seed saving. If you’re saving seeds from plants grown from seed packets, you can use the original packaging. However, you can also use small envelopes or a seed packet to package the seeds you’ll be saving. These are inexpensive and you can reuse them multiple times.
After packaging the new seed, be sure to label them correctly. Write down information that you might need for next year including the type of vegetable, or flower the seeds are, the name of the specific variety name, the date you packaged the seeds.
Finally, store your very own seed in a cool, dark place in a dry location out of direct sunlight. When you store seeds you want to make good choices like choosing a dry place and avoid areas with lots of moisture or fluctuations of room temperature and air temperature to ensure your clean seed is ready for the following spring which is the first step to a great harvest next season.
Hopefully this post helped you learn why it’s a good idea and how to save the best seeds from your garden for next spring or fall. If you have saved seeds before, share your experience in the comments below.
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