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Saving Seeds

Saving Seeds

Image source: this lyre lark on Flickr

It isn’t necessary to buy seed packets for all plantings if you know how to save seeds.

Even if you don’t garden you can keep the seeds from purchased produce, store and plant them during next season. With proper care and a little help from Mother Nature you can begin your own annual heirloom collection.

Start with quality heirloom produce or seeds if possible. The kind of seed used to grow an heirloom quality item is true to its type, and not mixed with another variety so it will produce a pure product if properly grown. Heirloom produce is naturally pollinated by the wind or insects, called open-pollinated, or it can be pollinated by hand which mimics natural effects.

Produce like tomatoes, peppers, snap peas, corn squash, watermelon, cucumber and other foods with easily removable seeds work well, but be sure to save only what will naturally grow in your region. Seeded flowers from plants, for example sunflowers, can be grown for their re-harvesting also.

Saving Seeds

Image source: OakleyOriginals on Flickr

Also, to make it easier, plant a garden that will reseed itself.

Earth911 points out some of the problems home gardeners can have with replicating heirloom edibles. One issue is space, which is needed to avoid cross-pollination in plantings, and they suggest checking SavingOurSeeds.org for tips on distance recommendations.

It is also key to know when to collect seeds, as they need to be harvested at different times. SeedSavers.org has tips for many types of seeds and when they should be picked.

Some seeds are as easy to save as picking once ready and letting dehydrate, known as dry processing, and then stored until ready to use. However, some need to be wet processed, like many fruit seeds and other moist types of produce.

Wet processing requires that the outer jellylike layer of some seeds be removed prior to drying, like tomato seeds. These types of seeds will need to have a water soak to get the liquid coating off of the actual seed. They will begin to mold a bit, which is normal and helps naturally remove the coating. The container will then need to be topped off with water. The good seeds will sink to the bottom, and can then be dried and stored.

Proper storage is also essential for seeds to germinate once planted, and if done correctly they will keep for a while. Seeds must be completely dried to prevent molding and bacteria before storing in air tight containers and need to be kept in cool, dark places.

Currently, around 25% of all plant species are facing extinction according to the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.

Saving seeds helps ensure a self-reliant garden and natural, home grown food.

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