Seed Saving Garden? Basics for the Beginner! Part 3

Why Use Isolation Techniques for Saving Seed?

  • Goal – produce true to type seeds
    • Prevent unwanted cross pollination by isolation
      • Seeds are collected from a number of plants of the same variety, protecting the variety’s genetic diversity (prevents the loss of a variety’s unique characteristics – i.e. form, color and taste)
      • Seeds collected from a number of plants of the same variety, is essential to the health and performance of the variety.
      • Seeds collected in your garden are unique to the changing conditions of your area.
      • These seeds are now a one of kind variety for your special use.
  • Isolation – the use of spatial distance or physical barriers to prevent pollination by wind, vibration, insects or mechanical means.
  • Isolation techniques:
    • Blossom bagging – netting material that is a physical barrier to insects that are drawn to the flowers of vegetables, herbs and flowers that you intend for seed saving.
      • Blossom bags are used around individual (okra) or clusters (tomatoes) of flowers.
      • Blossom bags (made of very fine screening) may be purchased through online horticultural supply distributors and high end garden centers.
      • Save okra seed
    • Caging – a physical barrier made of a frame and screen/row cover to prevent cross pollination of insect pollinated plants.
      • Self pollinated vegetables suitable for caging include eggplant, pepper and tomato.
      • Floating Row Cover material/very fine screening may be purchased online from horticultural suppliers or high end garden centers.
      •  seed saving cages 3wholeIsolation chamber
      • Bagging and caging are useful for those who have limited space and/or cannot meet distance requirements.
        • The netting or row cover material will prevent inadvertent cross pollination by wind or vibration.

Here are two excellent publications for more in-depth information regarding seed saving!

The Complete Guide      the-seed-garden

Please contact me for any question or observation you have regarding seed saving!

Papa

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Question and Observation About Saving Seed.

Nathan writes, “Why do you need to put bags on your veggies if you want to get their seeds?”

Great question!

  • First and foremost, blossom bagging is an excellent way to prevent pollinating insects from cross pollinating varieties from which you want to save seed.
    • The netting material is a physical barrier to insects that are drawn to the flowers of vegetables that you intend for seed saving.
    • This method is preferred where one has limited space and resources.
    • Air and moisture is allowed to pass through the netting to maintain a healthy environment for the subsequent fruit to be used for saving seed.
    • Online horticultural supply distributors and high end garden centers will be your resource for the net bags.
    • Reba writes, “I’m growing 5 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in my garden this year. I was planning to save the seed but now realize I have a bit more prep to do in order to make that possible. If I saved it now there would be cross pollination between all the varieties. Thank you for making this more clear. Next year I’ll be ready!”
  • There are two (2) types of flowers for tomatoes. It is important to know the distinction between the two.
  • Inserted stigma: the female part of the flower is encased inside the anther cone in the center of the flower.
    • inserted stigma You will notice in this picture a small hole in the tapered tube (corolla tube) in the center of the flower. The stigma (the female receptive part of the flower) is inside that small hole. The stigma is protected in the corolla tube which makes it unlikely that the flower will be cross pollinated.
    • Most tomato varieties have this blossom structure.
    • Blossom bag around the blossom cluster if garden is small and isolation distances cannot be met. (10 – 20 feet is the required isolation distance between tomato varieties)
    • Normally, 10 plants are sufficient to save adequate amounts of seed. However, you may only have space for a few of each variety you choose to save.
      • Under the above circumstances you will have to blossom bag all the blossom clusters to garner adequate seed supplies.
    • Blossom Bags may be purchase online or at horticultural supplies and high end garden centers.
    • Blossom Bagging of Tomato
  • Exposed stigma: the female part (stigma) of the flower is outside the anther cone in the center of the flower.
    • exposed stigma
    • In this picture you will see the stigma is clearly protruding out of the corolla tube. This type of flower is very susceptible to cross pollination from other tomato varieties.
    • Potato leaf and black/purple varieties of tomatoes have this blossom structure.
    • Caging is the preferred method if the garden is small and isolation distances cannot  be met. The use of floating row cover (similar to dryer sheet material) will absolutely insure there will be no cross pollination from other tomato varieties. The floating row cover will allow for air and moisture to pass  freely to the caged plants. (20 – 50 feet is the required isolation distance between tomato varieties) Ten (10) plants are the requirement for saving seed from your caged tomato plants.
    • Floating Row Cover may be purchased online from horticultural suppliers or high end garden centers.
    • seed saving cages 3whole     seed saving cages 5bce525c5436aa03bad5992585ea16d21-001

And to all a good night!!

Papa

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That? Part 3

I met a man in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed store who lost his personal family heirloom seed in a house fire. He was saddened he could not replace those beloved seeds. All the more reason to embrace the heirlooms we can grow and make them our own.

Growing, Harvesting, Saving Seed

Beans (green, dry/fresh shell out beans), cowpeas/southern peas and peas (garden, snow and sugar snap peas) are the simplest seeds to save!!

  • Beans: 10 – 20 feet between varieties is sufficient to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating).

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years

beans-dry-bush-closeupDried beans on vineBeans pods2

  • Cowpeas: 10 – 20 feet between separation to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating) .

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years.

Cowpeas1Cowpeascowpeas2

  • Peas: 10 – 20 feet between varieties is sufficient to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating).

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years

Dried peas on vineDried peas1Dried peas

  • Remember, this is fun and practical! Any questions?

Papa