These simple tips will take you to the next level of gardening, with a sense of accomplishment from planting seeds next year that you've collected yourself.
A few things to keep in mind before starting will make the most of your efforts.
- Start with open-pollinated, inbred or "heirloom" varieties. These varieties have been bred so that characteristics are similar from generation to generation. Hybrid lines have different parent lines for vigorous growth or fruiting, but subsequent offspring will not usually have the same successful genetics.
- Separation between different varieties of the same crop or family is necessary to maintain the genetics from the parent into the offspring. This can be done by distance, planting different varieties as far apart as possible. Some pollen can travel farther than practical for typical backyard gardeners to separate. In this case physical barriers may be necessary; shoot and tassel bags for corn, is one example.
- Choose fruit or seed from the healthiest, most desirable plants. Avoid plants that have more signs of disease. Take seeds from the plant with the largest, reddest or tastiest tomatoes; or ones that ripen earliest or latest. Over time you may develop your own heirloom variety that works best for your property.
The plants in the video below are perfect ones to begin your seed saving adventure.
Sure it can be easy to go down to the garden center, hardware store or even Wal-Mart. But what if they are out of a vegetable you want? Or worse, what if you have found a delicious variety that grew very well for you and they are out of that certain one? If your favorite is an "heirloom" or open-pollinated variety it is a perfect candidate for seed saving. Seed saving will also save you some money each year, depending on your scale.
Last Spring Abundant Design hosted a community seed exchange at the YMCA. There was plenty to go around, extra to donate at the end, and the best part was the conversations and connections made with local gardeners, orchardists and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). If you are in the area, I'd love to see you at the next one!
For more information and seed saving supplies visit Seed Savers Exchange. Here is a link to their Products Page.
Have a great week, autumnal equinox and first day of Fall!