Sunday, October 28, 2012

Basics of seed saving

When we started veggie gardening 4.5yrs ago learning to save seed was low down on the agenda. I had heard about people who made seed saving their business and other hobby gardeners who did it as par for the course.

The two people who I know from personal interaction that do this as a business are Sean at Living Seeds and Shannon at The Gravel Garden. After chatting to them both a couple of years ago I felt completely overwhelmed and thought I would leave that up to them. It's not that I ever wanted to turn seed saving into a business, I just thought it would be a good skill to learn.

It is a thought and skill that has been shelved for the last 3 years as I just didn't have the time to figure it out and put the time in to this process. But just this week both Superman and I have had revelation on some issues and I know that I must take it up again.

With the existance of hybrid seed as the buying choice and the influx of GM seed into the country, it's time to make seed banks for my own family to use later in life. This goes to the essence of what we realise as parents...we need to equip our children to live in a very different world to what we live in today. I am not apocolyptic in thinking, but I do know the world will come to an end eventually and Jesus will come again to establish a New Earth (2 Peter 3). Whether this happens in my children or my grand children's generations, I have no idea...but I need to continue the process of equipping them spiritually and physically for this time, even if just to hand on the skills to the next generation.

Obediently I have started to gather my seed saving information once again and I thought I would share my finds here for you. If you have any other resources you would like to share, please leave a comment in the box below, even a link to a clearly written article on seed saving.

Some basic principles of seed saving are:

~On a small scale like mine place plants that you will save seeds from close together for pollination. In other words, if you plant 8 cabbages, choose the best 3 next to each other to go to seed.

~ This then allows you to make a small fleece cage over those three plants to prevent cross pollination.

~ Always save seed from the best plants - pull out weak plants around the best so that they do not share their inferior genes in cross pollination.

~With all plants from which you save seed, choose the biggest plant, the biggest fruit or vegetable and then the biggest seed from it to dry! This means that you are getting the choice genes for regrowth.

~ Saving seed from the same garden will eventually cause the seeds to be acclimatised to the microbes found in your soil, making stronger plants.

~Never use F1 Hybrids to save seed from. Always use open pollinated seeds.

~Give the seed plant space by clearning out a good area around it and feeding it well.

~Remember this is future food for you which means that you want the best next time around and by doing this you will be getting the best of the gene pool and thus better fruits or vegetables.

Some specifics based on the foods we grow:

~Courgettes, squashes and pumpkins - can all cross pollinate, so pollinate the female flower as soon as it appears with a male from the same plant then cover the flower with a fleese bag so that no pollinator contaminates it. When it has grown to a 3rd of its size then cut it off and take the seed.
~Calendula and borage - once polliated and seeds formed choose the biggest and dry then save.
~Lettuce - allow to go to seed on the plant and dry out. Then cut the whole head off after placing it into a brown bag. 
~Tomatoes - choose the biggest plant and the biggest tomato from that plant. Remove all the juice, put on newspaper, let dry then peel off. Select the biggest seed, from the biggest vegetable from the biggest plant.
~Beans - not much cross pollination, when they are white and dry the seeds are ready for storage.
I still need to figure out what to do about corn with this being a small plot....ideas anyone?
Alot of this information I got from this video on Youtube 
I also found some interesting websites to read when I have more time to sit:
Further to this I am going to investigate what the best way is to dry and package seed from long term storage.

Do you save seeds? Why?  


Lois Evensen said...

Fascinating post. It reminds me of the giant seed depository in Norway.

prairieharmony said...

You choose a great topic today. I am also interested in savings seeds once our garden is established. I have been researching both online and in gardening books. I do not yet have solid references for posting.

Cath said...

In all this, just remember that germination percentage deteriorates with time, so the fresher the seeds, the better the yield. We have been sowing some old hand-me-down heirloom seeds, and their age has definitely affected their viability.