Tips for Saving Seeds


Country Moon

Gardeners have been saving their vegetable and flower seeds ever since they have been planting gardens. After all, this is the only way to ensure that plant varieties will endure for generations. However, many gardeners as of late (myself included) have succumbed to picking up seed packets off supermarket shelves or ordering from seed catalogs.

It has only been since WWII that growers have had the option to buy affordable, high quality commercial seeds. Before that, the only alternative was to save their own or trade with friends and neighbors.

Saving seed from your own garden is a way to duplicate a delectable harvest and also to save money. By carefully selecting plants that flourish in your locale and saving their seed, you can create strains that are well adapted to local growing conditions…and it only takes a little effort. Here are a few guidelines:

Which Plants Are Best for Seed Harvesting

Without saying, it makes sense to choose plants that are the most vigorous, the ones that over-produce and have the best fruits and to choose the prettiest flowers. Besides this fact, take into account that not all plants produce productive seeds. Most of the plants sold in garden stores are hybrids that are created by artificially cross-pollinating cultivars and will not produce plants true to the originals. Do NOT save seeds from hybrids because they will produce seedlings that are different from the parent plant and are of sub-standard quality. If seed packets are printed with “Hybrid” or “F1” stay away from them if you want to save seeds from their plants.

Open-pollinated plants are the best choice for saved seeds. These are non-hybrid cultivars that produce by self-pollination or cross-pollination. Seeds from open-pollinated plants will breed true, providing they do not cross-pollinate with another plant of the same species. All heirloom plants are open-pollinated.

Self-pollinating plants like beans, lettuce, peas and tomatoes have flowers that contain both male and female parts for fertilization. Each flower can be fertilized from itself or a nearby flower of the same plant. Saved seeds from self-pollinated plants almost always produce identical plants.

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