The International Seed Saving Institute has the mantra “Feel the need for seed!” Yes, this institute does exist. It is located in Arizona and is a great resource for seed saving, permaculture and any questions related to seed saving.
Why should you become a seed saver? Seed saving is as old as gardening. Years ago gardeners considered seeds from their favorite plants to be treasures to be guarded. Since seeds these days are relatively inexpensive, you may ask, “Why should I be a seed saver.”
As we read today’s gardening news, biotechnology is changing the way we garden. Some parts of the plant world are becoming homogenized. Seed saving can keep us diverse.
Aside from this argument for seed saving, the main reason to save seeds is because you have a plant you love and want to grow again. You may have the perfect tomato or flower and want to have it again next year.
According to Marie Iannotti at About.com, open pollinated or heirloom, self-pollinated plants are the most successful to work with in seed saving. Self-pollinated plants that are great for the beginning seed saver are beans, chicory, endive, lettuce, peas, and tomatoes. Flowers such as foxglove, hollyhock, nasturtium, sweet pea and zinnia are good for first-timers too.
Always choose the best quality plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables from which to save seeds. Look for vigor, disease resistance and productivity. Harvest seeds either when the seedpods have dried on the plant (flowers, beans, broccoli, lettuce) or when the vegetable is fully ripe (tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant).
Store saved seed in a paper envelope, labeled with the variety and year. Make sure the seed is completely dry and remove as much of the chaff as possible. Place the envelopes in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark, dry place. It is best to use the stored seed the following year. You should be rewarded with the most perfect plants next year.
Joette is an avid gardener and prides herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.