Seed saving is a wonderful way to save money, increase your self-sufficiency, and grow healthier plants each year. Seed saving is also an important skill to learn in order to preserve the garden for future generations. Without seed savers, the home garden would look much different than it does today, and eventually, if the art of seed saving is lost, the home garden as we know it could become a thing of the past.
Here are a five seed saving tips for beginners that will have you saving seeds in no time!
Tip #1: Start with the right type of seed
The first (and most important) thing to know is that success starts with choosing the right type of plant from which to save your seeds. In order to save seeds that will grow into the same plant that you seed saved from, you will need to save seed from Heirloom (open-pollinated) plants. Heirloom plants are the seed saver’s plant of choice because when seeds are saved from an open pollinated plant, the seed will stay true to the characteristics of the parent plant.
Saving seeds from Hybrid plants is not recommended. Hybrid plants have been created by crossbreeding two different species of plant to form a new plant with specific desirable traits. Because of this cross-pollination, the seeds saved from hybrids will not produce fruit or vegetables which look or taste like the original producer.
Tip #2: Choose the healthiest plants
Choose the healthiest and best producing plants to seed save from. This will increase the success rate of your seeds. The concept is pretty simple. If the parent plant is the strongest and healthiest, the plant will pass these character traits on through its seed. This is highly beneficial to the home gardener in respect to growing a healthy, strong crop in the coming years. When seeds are saved from the strongest and healthiest plants year after year, the crop grown from the saved seed will become healthier, more prolific, and disease resistant with each passing year! To pick the healthiest plants to seed save from, simply watch the plants as they begin to grow and produce fruit. Take note of which plants germinated the fasted, put-on fruit first, and look the healthiest. Simply place a plant marker or tie a piece of yarn to the plants you have observed to be the healthiest so you will remember which plants you will be taking the seed from.
Tip #3: Choose the healthiest fruit/vegetable
Once you have chosen the plants that you want to save from, the next step will be to choose the best fruit or vegetable to save from. Watch as your chosen seed saving plants begin to flower or put on fruit. Choose the fruit from the best shaped fruit. Do not save seed from fruit that is misshaped or appears to be blemished in any way. Once you have chosen the fruit you wish to save seed from you will need to let this fruit ripen fully. In fact, you will probably need to let it over ripen in order for the seeds to grow to maturity inside the fruit. Note that with some varieties, the seeds will be found after the plants "go to seed." This is sometimes called "bolting" and results in a stalk that rises above, usually after the produce is ready to harvest, and has seed pods or heads containing the seeds.
Tips #4: Dry your seeds
Once you have removed seeds from the fruit, the seeds will need to dry out before storing. An easy way to dry seeds it to lay them on a paper towel on a counter for several weeks and allow them to completely air dry. When drying your seeds, be careful to keep them out of direct sunlight, as this could damage your seeds and decrease their viability.
Tip #5: Properly store seeds
Storing your seeds correctly is very important. Seeds will need to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. The optimal storage temperatures for most seeds are 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity of less than 40%. Seed storage ideas could include: a metal tin with lid, a glass jar, an airtight container in a refrigerator, in the freezer, in a dark colored glass jar (tightly sealed), or even in the original seed package. When seeds are properly stored, they will maintain their viability for years to come. Storing your seeds properly is very important for the success of your seeds germination rates.
BONUS PRO TIP: Don’t forget to
label your seeds!
Seed saving is an important skill to learn and a wonderful way to preserve your garden for future generations. Saving seeds is fun and rewarding, too! This year make plans to save a few seeds, and when next planting season comes, you will be glad you did!
Blessings of Bounty - Amber Jouben
Heritage Hollow Homestead