A Work in Progress, Please contribute
Why Save Seeds?
- To select and save desirable traits like size, colours, great taste
- Retain plant biodiversity
- Control the integrity of your own food supply, e.g. avoid GM, etc.
- Open pollination in the local area provides plants suited to local conditions
- Save money
List of Organisations Promoting Seed Saving
- http://www.seedsanctuary.com/ Seed and Plant Sanctuary of Canada
- http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi.html International Seed Saving Institute
- http://www.kew.org/msbp/why/index.htm Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank Project
- http://www.saveourseeds.org/en/index.php SOS Save Our Seeds
- http://www.seedsavers.org/ Seed Savers Exchange
- http://www.primalseeds.org/ Primal Seeds
- http://www.seeds.ca/ Seeds of Diversity, Canada
- http://www.seedlibrary.org/ Hudson Valley Seed Library
Basic Techniques for Seed Saving
- One important issue is whether the seeds could have cross-pollinated with another variety, so you will need to research your particular variety and find out how far away from other varieties it needs to be grown to ensure it stays true to type
- Choose seeds from your best plants, e.g. the colour, size and flavour of the yield or how well resistant to disease, drought, wind, etc. Some people feel that the chosen plants should be kept going for seed alone and that the produce shouldn't be harvested from those plants chosen for seed collection. Mark the chosen plants to identify them easily later on when it's time to collect the seed.
- Timing is important. The seeds should be ripe and dry, but collect before they start to drop off the plant.
- Choose a dry day for seed-collection
- Some seeds just need to be removed from the pods, seedheads or plant. Smaller seeds may need to be sieved through a mesh to remove the chaff.
- Others will require cleaning by separating the seeds from the pulp and washing them in water. Stir the seeds in the water very vigorously to remove pulp. The good seeds usually sink and poor seeds usually float along with the pulp and can be removed. Keep on adding more clean water and stir again, then strain in a sieve under running water. By this time, most of the pulp should have been removed.
- Some seeds, like tomatoes, need to be fermented, which basically involves scraping out the seeds and putting them in a jar with a little water. Leaving them to ferment for about four days, shaking every now and again. Good seeds will sink and bad seeds and pulp will float, so pour off the top layer, then sieve them under running water and dry them.
- Washed seeds will require drying by spreading them thinly onto a surface such as a baking tray (they tend to stick to paper so it's best avoided)
- Even seeds which are collected dry might need further drying, although it is usually fine to put these onto paper towels or newspaper as they are fairly dry to begin with
- turn/stir the seeds regularly
- drying temperature should not exceed 90degF or 32degC.
- Air movement helps with the drying process, so an airy place is best
- Once dry, don't let seeds sit around in the open air in case they reabsorb moisture from the air
- Ensure that seeds are absolutely dry before storage
- Place the dry seeds into a paper envelope
- Label carefully
- Place the envelopes into an airtight container, such as a glass jar
- Protect seeds from vermin and insects
- It is usually recommended that peas and beans are stored in paper bags (in a cool, dry place) rather than airtight containers.
- Some people like to use a desiccant which can be wrapped in a bit of paper towel or net. Some suggestions are:
- Silica gel
- Unscented cat litter
- Dry milk powder
- Grains of rice
- Seeds can withstand freezing temperatures only if they are absolutely dry. A cool, dry place is best. They can be stored in the fridge or freezer if you can be sure to avoid any moisture getting into the storage container, although it is recommended that peas and beans are not frozen.
- Store seeds in the dark
Seed Savers A-Z
- Asparagus. The female plant produces red/orange berries
- Beans. Try to grow them 12' away from any other variety. Let them dry on the bush until the pods are dry and brown and the seeds rattle inside the pods. Then shell them and collect the dry beans. If the season is short and it becomes too cold or wet to leave them on the plants, then harvest the whole plants and hang them to dry upside down until the pods become dry and brown. After shelling, let the beans dry for a further few days out of the pods, enough so that your thumb nail won't leave a dent.
- Brassicas Broccoli, Kale and Cabbage and other brassicas will be cross-pollinated by bees with other varieties. One solution to this problem is to only let one variety go to flower and collect seed from only this variety. Another is to keep different varieties at least 100 yards apart.
- Peas. These don't usually cross pollinate. Let the pods mature and dry until you can hear the peas rattle inside when shaken. If the weather gets cold or wet (as with beans) take up the entire plant and hang upside down in a dry place (not too warm). When the pods are fully dry, shell the peas and dry them for a further few days out of the pods.
- Swiss Chard