While seed saving can be done whether you are hooked up to PUD or not, the entire process of gardening and harvesting your heirloom seeds is the kind of thing sustainable living is all about. Seed saving can be tedious work but the benefits are wonderful.
What is an Heirloom Seed?
Heirloom seeds are those handed down generation to generation. Although they are found in some seed catalogs or available for sale online, true heirloom seeds are more often passed among individuals. They are seeds that come from plants that have grown in open pollination and without human intervention.
Benefits of Seed Saving
Saving seeds can be a beneficial as well as rewarding activity. By saving seeds from your garden, you can save money on next year’s garden. If you save your seeds, you won’t have to buy more. Saving seeds also ensure quality. If you grow organic fruits and veggies, you know the seeds you save are organic as well.
How to Save Seeds
The basic process for preparing fruits and vegetables for seed harvesting is to separate the seeds from the flesh, rinse the seeds and then let them dry before storing them.
Last night I read an article in Sunset magazine about saving tomato seeds. Here’s a quick rundown of the process they suggested:
- Place the seeds and juice of a garden tomato in a jar.
- Let the jar sit out for a few weeks or until there is a layer of mold on top. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar.
- Carefully discard the top layer of mold and any seeds that didn’t sink.
- Add 1/2 cup of water to the mix and repeat the process until the seeds at the bottom are clean.
If you want to save seeds from flowers the consensus seems to be that you should let the seeds dry as long as possible while still on the plant.
Tips for Storing Seeds
After your seeds have dried completely they can be stored in small paper bags. Be sure to label the bags so you know which seeds are where. Some seeds, such as flower seeds, store better in sealed jars. When the seeds are packaged keep them in an area that is cool and dry. If you can, use your seeds the following year as the quality of the seeds decrease year by year.