Seed Saving Tips and Tricks

I began seed saving just a few years ago and I still have a lot to learn. But I have had quite a few successes and thought I would share some tips and tricks. If you have additional information feel free to comment below.

Why Save Seed?

While some may practice seed saving to cut down on expenses, my primary reason is the fact seed producers like fashion designers change-up their production lines. While I like trying new varieties (or buying new shoes) I don’t always want to let go of my favorites.

Both my Five Star Lettuce and my Genuine Heirloom Marriage Tomatoes fall into this category. Locally, the plants are no longer sold. In fact, I can no longer find the seed for the tomatoes available on line. So seed saving allows me to keep planting and eating my favorite produce.

Seed Saving Experimentation

For me, a key to success in sowing saved seeds comes from experimentation. The Peanut Experiment from this past spring is one example. Peanut seeds do not need to be soaked prior to planting. In fact, my findings showed they germinated better when they were not soaked.

I have made a note of this in my gardening log just in case I forget this fact over the winter. Other experimentation with seed saving is also remembered and used. My Potato Experiment using a bag to grow the spuds was a bust. The potatoes do much better in the ground or in large boxes.

Self-seeding Crops

Of course, I also have areas of the garden where annuals are allowed to self-sow. The most notable is the Italian parsley patch. In addition to the plants dropping seed at the end of the season, I occasionally give the parsley and similar plants such as marigolds a hand by dragging my hand along the seed head and sprinkling the seed in the bed.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Make sure seed is ready to be picked and saved. The seeds need to have progressed beyond the green stage. Letting the seed dry on the plant is best.
  2. Store the seed in a cool, dry, dark place. Do your research. While a refrigerator drawer may seem ideal, better places exist. Seed Potatoes should not be stored below 50 degrees F., so this eliminates the fridge.
  3. Make sure the seed is clean. This does NOT mean washing. But brush extra dirt off and remove excess vegetation.
  4. Label your seeds.
  5. Do not keep damaged seed.
  6. If keeping garlic cloves for seeding, choose the biggest cloves.
  7. Store small seeds in envelopes.
  8. Larger seed can be stored in burlap or in the case of beans, plastic containers with room for air flow.

Pictures

I am still learning about saving seed. This means taking chances. For example, beet seed and Swiss chard seed can easily cross. Commercial growers do not have their production close. I have saved seed from two types of beets, Chioggia and Detroit Red. I also saved red and white stemmed Swiss chard. We will see what happens with my saved seed from these family crops next spring.

Enjoy the pictures.

Seed heads of lettuce
This dandelion effect on the lettuce indicates the seed is ready to harvest. The small black seeds are at the base of the puff bloom.
Close up of lettuce seed
The black seeds are easy to spot at the base of the puff ball.
Lettuce seed and seed head
Leaf lettuce. The seeds form at the base of the flower. The chaff can be separated much like wheat or it can stay mixed with the seed until planting.
Two types of beets
The differing beet varieties are easy to spot by contrasting colors. But the seed looks identical.
Beet stalks with seed.
Beet seeds, Chioggia on left and Detroit Red in the middle. A beet wintered over, hence the ability to save seed.
Beet root
A look at the beet root. I did not try to eat this wintered over beet.
Green beet seed
This beet seed is still green and not ready to harvest.
Immature seed heads
These seed heads are still green. No seed can be collected at this stage.

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