Before we could purchase seeds out of a catalog the only way to continuously plant crops year after year was to save seed to sow in the next season; we have been saving seeds since the Stone Age. There are still many reasons why we should save our own seed for future planting.
- Save money– spending money on seeds when you have your own supply seems silly, doesn’t it?
- Quality– Large seed companies will sell all seed instead of selecting for superior plants and traits. You can choose the best plants to save seed from and you will have control over the consistency and quality.
- Adaptation- Many commercial seeds unfortunately are selected to adapt across many geographical regions because they depend upon synthetic fertilizers instead of local conditions. If you use seed from your best quality plants grown on your land you will eventually grow varieties that are adapted to your soil, climate, and conditions.
- Seed Security- Due to large scale farming and monoculture, we have lost many varieties of seeds. By saving your own seeds you can continue growing unique varieties that may be discontinued or lost forever as the seed industry continues to consolidate varieties and focus on non organic hybrids.
In order to save your own seeds they must be dried and stored correctly. You know your seeds are dry if they break rather than bend when you apply pressure. There are different methods to prepare plants for seed saving. Try to use open-pollinated varieties for seed saving so you know the next generation will be true to the parent plant and you are not using a hybrid.
Tomatoes and Cucumbers – are both coated in a gel so they need to be fermented before saving.
- Fermentation process:
- Remove the gel covered seed mass and place in a waterproof container
- Add enough water to equal the volume of the seed mass
- Place container in warm spot but not in sunlight
- Stir contents once a day (it will smell bad!)
- In a few days viable seeds sink to bottom and bad seeds, mold, and debris will float to the top
- Wait 5 days for all good seeds to drop
- Wash viable seeds in several batches of fresh water
- Lay out in single layer on a plate or screen
- Place plate in warm place until seeds are completely dry (may take several weeks)
- Brush seeds off the central stem
- Place on a plate or screen in a single layer
- Put aside to dry
Melons and Squash
- Rinse seeds (rub between fingers to remove all debris and fiber)
- Place seeds in a single layer on a plate or screen
- Put aside to dry
Peas and Beans
- Pick brown-pods from the vine and remove the seeds
- Place in single layer on plate or screen
- Air dry for 6 weeks