Why Save Seeds?
- To create a genuinely regenerative garden which is truly sustainable.
- To adapt seeds to climate, water availability and soil conditions as well as developing resistances to local diseases and insects.
- To become self-reliant by bypassing the seed industry and the focus on GMO, terminator seeds and patents on seeds.
- To exchange seeds within your community.
- To control for purity and quality.
- To preserve biodiversity as heirloom seed varieties contain invaluable genetic diversity.
- Open-pollinated (OP) non-hybrid seeds are better suited for flavor and tenderness.
Why Not Hybrids?
- Hybrids are the result of crossing two different parent varieties, usually inbred, therefore hybrids must be avoided for seed saving because they are incapable of producing plants like the previous generation. OP seeds produce true to type.
- Since hybrids are useless for replanting, gardeners and farmers need to return to the seed companies each year for new seeds.
- Hybrids typically rely on external inputs such as more water, pesticides, and herbicides.
- Hybridization and other technologies transform the seed from being a self-regenerating, renewable resource into a non-renewable resource.
Seed Saving Basics:
- Harvest seeds after maturity to better ensure viability.
- Select seed produced by plants with desirable characteristics, such as drought and heat adaptation, pest and disease resistance, flavor, texture, size, color, cooking and storage qualities. Early in the season mark the plants from which you intend to save seeds.
- Save the best seeds, avoiding those that are discolored, too small, or damaged.
- Save at least 50% more seed than needed for planting to allow for losses during storage and germination.
- Maintain purity. Some techniques used are: bagging seed heads, isolation through distance, altering planting times for varieties of the same species or growing only one variety of a species per season.
- Process seeds before storing. Winnow seeds from chaff.
- Assure that seeds are completely dry before storing in a cool dry place.
- Label seeds with variety, year, and any other important info.
- Keep records.
Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth—the most thorough and important book for anyone interested in saving seeds
Saving Seeds by Marc Rogers—very user-friendly