Seed Saving Garden? Basics for the Beginner! Part 2

Start with an easy crop. Consider annual crops that mature in one season.

  • Annuals are plants that grow, mature, set seed and die within one year.
    • Will your seed saving choice have time to mature?
      • Some crops are seed harvested at maturity (when they are ready for the table).
        • Examples are tomato, winter squash/pumpkin and grains.
      • Some crops need additional time for seed maturity.
        • Eggplant, cucumber, snap peas and beans are examples.
        • Leaf crops (oriental greens, lettuce and spinach) and root crops (potatoes and sweet potatoes)
    • Examples of easy, annual self pollinating vegetables are:
      • Garden beans, Southern peas/cowpeas and garden peas (peas, snap peas and snow peas)
        • These varieties are open pollinated. The flowers are self pollinated.
    • As a beginning seed saver, you need to focus on one annual crop for saving seed. Make this one of your favorite vegetables you enjoy at your family table and share with your gardening friends! This should be something fun to accomplish.
    • buttercup        annual veggies
  • Biennial plants complete their life cycle over two growing seasons. Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, turnips and celery are biennials. These crops are usually harvested in their first season of vegetative growth; the flowers are never seen. The second growing season they form flowers and produce seeds; then, the mother plant dies.
    • These crops need a chilling period before flowering. Winter chilling is critical for flower initiation. This process is called vernalization.
    • Overwintering initiates flowering the following spring, producing seed.
  • This type of seed saving is for the advanced seed saver.
  • carrots colored        purple broccoli

These two publications have been helpful to me and I’m sure they will help you as well!

The Complete Guide        the-seed-garden

The terms isolation and population will be my next discussion. Stay tuned!


Seed Saving Garden? What’s That?

Have you considered saving seed from your garden? Saving seed was once an option. Not any more. It is absolutely essential!! With an uncertain economy and a shrinking heirloom seed pool, the time has come to start saving seed. Over 90% of our heirloom seed have been lost to apathy, lack of interest and the advent of hybrids.

I offered a presentation on  Planning a Seed Garden during the September Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Fall Festival. I will be sharing this information over the next few days.

seed saving cages 2bf220def13c0a7dd7fe13d3e8f860078Save okra seedGarden cages3

  • Determine your favorite open pollinated (true to type) vegetables, herbs and flowers.
  • Does your current garden have the space necessary for vegetable and seed saving production?

–Make a garden plan to fit the space available.

Start small, planting a familiar variety that you are comfortable growing.

–What seed crop or crops are worth the space?

  • Isolation requirement, pollination method and plant requirement must be considered.

Annual Crops

  • Will your seed saving choice have time to mature?

–Tomato, winter squash and grains are harvested at maturity.

–Eggplant, cucumber, snap peas and beans need additional time for seed          maturity.

–Leaf crops (Oriental greens, lettuce, spinach), stalk crops (celery, celtuce,      cardoon, Swiss Chard, asparagus, fennel) and root crops (potato, sweet potato)    need additional time for seed maturity.

Biennial Crops

  • Need cold for vernalization requirement.

–Vernalization is a period of chilling before flowering.

  • Winter chilling is critical for flower initiation.
  • Cabbage, carrots, beets, turnips, kale grow foliage the first year.

–Overwintering initiates flowering the following spring, producing seed.

Are there any questions? Please send them!