Seed Saving Tips and Ideas

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When the end of the season nears, serious gardeners should think about saving seeds from their own plants, to prepare for next season’s seed starting. Why save your own seed?

Saving your own seed is a budget friendly way to replant next year, after all, you pay for the seed or plant once, and you can keep saving the seed year after year!

Saving seed protects biodiversity. In other words, we save seed and protect those varieties from being lost to the generations of hybridizing. So many plants our great grandparents grew simply no longer exist… and that’s as tragic a loss as extinct animals.

It allows you to grow plants that do well in your garden, and over time, those seeds adapt to your growing conditions. Basically, you are growing “The Johnsons special corn seed”, and it would be true! After a few years, your seed has adapted to grow better in your garden then anywhere else on earth…and that is an amazing thing.

You are guaranteed not to have seed that’s been treated in any way. After all, you are your own seed company!

You can trade seed with friends,  or participate in a seed lending program like some libraries are now sponsoring. Find out more about seed lending from the Washington state seed lending “library”. Many cities have these now. Imagine the possibilities. Search for one in your area.

It’s fun and educational. And it just makes you feel self-sufficient, doesn’t it?

Do remember, hybridized plants seeds’ will revert back to their parent plant. Look for open pollinated plants to grow true from seed. You can find more information on that at Organic Gardening. (Also a good beginners guide!)

Let’s start with the basics. The Farmer’s Almanac has a tutorial on beginning seed saving for vegetables. Start here, and get a feel for how easy it really is!

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Now that you have the basics down, ‘Grow Real Food’ has a chart of seed saving tips that is really helpful, and gives you specific information plant by plant. This would be great to print out and include in your gardening journal!

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‘Tipnut’ has a good tutorial on saving tomato seeds, and includes a tip on getting heirloom varieties from a farmers market… That way, you know how they look and taste, and also that they grow well in your area. Then you can harvest seed directly from your farmers market tomato!

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‘Weekend Gardener’ has a primer on saving flower seeds from annuals, for those of you who just can’t let those petunias go!

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Now that you have your seeds, you need a way to store them! ‘Erin Vale Designs’ shows us how to make these DIY seed packets from scrapbook paper. I love this because you could choose any color or design to match your personality. These also would make lovely place cards for a garden party! Be sure to scroll to the bottom and click on the download buttons to find the designs for the packet.

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If you just want to print out packets, ‘The Prudent Homemaker’ has this free pdf for printing these really nice seed packets… Great for gift giving, and gives space to write information on the variety, date, etc…

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Don’t like the idea of packets? Found this idea on Cottage in the Oaks. Paint the tops of old spice jars with chalkboard paint! That way, each year they can be reused for different seeds!

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Image Credits: Prudent Homemaker, UMN Extension, Grow Real Food, Tipnut, Erin Vale, Cottage in the Oaks




Comments

  1. What about saving seeds inside plastic medicine bottles, after they have been washed thoroughly? These bottles/containers are an amber color..Label them on outside with name of flower seeds, date collected and from where?

  2. Jesse Farmer-Lowell says:

    this fall I saved a load of different perennial seeds from all over our small town. We have snow on the ground now. Do I sprinkle seeds on the snow as nature might, save them until very early Spring when there will still be a little snow or what? I have a LOT. Some are larger seeds and I’ll start them in small pots for Spring planting but some are like poppies, coneflower, susans, lavender, etc.

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      Since you have a LOT, I would do a little of both… yes, nature does sprinkle them in the fall, but nature also loses a lot to birds, wind and weather… Your surest bet is to sprinkle them in spring with a light sprinkle of soil over them to help keep them in place and hide them from the birds! Would love to hear how it turns out!

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