Organic Gardening – Saving Seeds

Saving seeds can be fun and it’s a good habit for several reasons.

Sometimes you can not find a seed you purchased and by saving it you know you will have it for the next year.

If it’s a bad growing season there may be a shortage of seeds and you may not be able to order or find your seed. This can easily happen.

One year we had a horrible wet summer. I gardened in mud all season. It was so bad I finally put boards in my garden so I has a semi dry place to walk. I believe that year it started raining July 5th and rained every day until the end of September. The crops rotted or produced poorly. The bees did not pollinate crops and the following summer we could not get more than half of the seeds we normally buy. We couldn’t even find onion sets!

It would only take a few bad years in a row to loose a few rare or valuable seeds, particularly heirloom seeds.

Kids also enjoy saving seeds. It’s fun for them to save the seeds and watch them grow the next year. I am a firm believer in children gardening and they usually enjoy it.

If you grow a large pumpkin or gourd saving the seed can often lead to a bigger pumpkin or gourd the next year.

How to save seeds

Choose a good sized healthy looking garden vegetable or flower and let it finish maturing. When you know it is fully developed you can harvest the seed. If it’s a seed from a wet vegetable remove any vegetable parts and wash in water. Lay out to dry on a paper towel. In a few days when you know they are dry you can store them in a jar. If they are not dry they will get moldy and rot!

Tomato seeds need to be harvested differently. Wash the seeds and get all the tomato flesh off of them. Put them in a jar and let them soak for a few days with a drop of dish soap, Change the water several times so that it will not get moldy and ruin the seed. Tomato seeds have a soft covering on them and if you do not soak the seed to remove this covering it will dry and water will not be able to penetrate the seed the following year. The good tomato seeds will float the bad seeds will sink. Dry the good seeds on a paper towel, pat dry and store. I usually store tomato seeds in a paper envelope.

Gourds are another seeds that you will harvest differently than most. Gourds need to dry and cure first. After they have cured you can cut them open and take out the seed.

Note: Most vegetables that freeze will have seeds that will not produce. Freezing will kill the seed. The only exception would be if the whole vegetable did not freeze.

Another point to take into consideration when saving seeds is that if you grow a vegetable by another vegetable related to it they may cross pollinate and you will not get a true seed. Examples of this are tomatoes by tomatoes or squash by squash or gourds. If you plant these like crops away from each other they will not cross pollinate as easily.

When you store seeds don’t put them in plastic containers or bags. Use paper or glass jars. Store in a mild temperature. Some people will store seeds in the refrigerator

Mark your seeds well and put growing instructions on the outside on the envelopeor glass container.

One final note: Heirloom and regular seeds save well. Seeds that are hybrids do not stay true to their ancestry and often produce inferior plants and crops.

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Denise

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