"Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Best Reason

The other day Dani at Eco Footprint-South Africa wrote a great post called Gone To Seed where she wondered why all of us in the US were spending our hard earned cashola on seeds when we could just as easily harvest our own seeds directly from our plants like she does and be more self sufficient. 

I weighed in my thoughts (as did several of you who also read my blog).  Last night I went in and pulled her post back up to see what other commenters had to say.  A very interesting topic to be sure and the reasons "why" we're buying were all good ones. 

Some of the reasons made me laugh..."because we CAN"...while some I hadn't considered..."shorter growing season = no time to allow the plant to go to seed".... "cross pollination issues."

Seed saving is high on my list of To-Do's for this year.  You'd think that saving seeds would be a bit of a no brainer but after reading some of the comments from Dani's post, I've got a rather general question.

Simply put, what works and what doesn't?  I bet the answer isn't so simple. 

As a "newbie" gardener I'd like to be as efficient as I can be.  If you tell me something isn't likely to work out, I'd rather pass on it for now and experiment on it some other time.  However, if experience has taught you that this solution is a pretty sure thing, than I'd like to hear it.  I'd rather not remake the wheel if I can help it.

Seed saving falls into that category big time.  I have zero experience in it.  Like many of you, buying seeds is just easier and gives you the product you want in the expected manner.  So if lettuce is a great seed save, I'd like to know.  If saving squash seeds suck, well...I like to know that too.  So feel free to share the wealth.  Let me know what has worked for you and what hasn't.

I have another question too, kind of along the same lines.  This year I'm starting strawberries.  I'm fine with making the investment and buying the plants.  But I've read that you should consider rotating your strawberries out every 3 years or so.  The implication is that a strawberry plant has a productive lifespan of only so long, not to mention the whole "crop rotation thing".  But if this is the case, can I propagate my own plants?  Or do I need to buy them? 

Same thing with potatoes.  I now understand that I need to buy organic at the store and let them go to seed.  I don't need to buy them from a catalog or nursery.  But have you found that store bought potatoes are unpredictable?  That purchased seed potatoes from a suppler gives you better results?

Now even though I do want to save money and limit my future seed purchasing I do agree with what Jane said...

"There are some really great seed companies out there that fight the GMO companies and we really have to support them to stay in business or there will not be a choice in the future."

And that my friends is probably the best reason of all.


  1. If you are going to seed save, start with tomatoes...they don't cross pollinate easily, and you can remove the seeds and still eat them...I just got my baker creek catalogue yesterday and their tutorial is exactly what I've been doing for years with great results...and very good pictures to boot.

  2. With strawberries---I've always given my "suckers" to the neighbors. Well, one of them told me they were the most sour, bitter strawberries ever. Since I grow 5 different types, I'm wondering if the sprouts somehow "mixed" with each other to produce a bad berry. Because, individually, I don't have any sour berries. So, now that I'm starting to replace some of my beds, I'm buying new plants for them. I figure it's a small investment to know for sure.

    As for seeds of vegetables, saving seed is great--but don't save seeds of hybrids, because they will revert to traits of the different parents and sometimes the results are really bad.
    Heirloom/open pollinated seeds can all be easily saved.

  3. Seed saving is a noble activity.
    I agree that we do need to support those companies that are doing the right thing.

  4. Tami - I placed the strawberries side growth into soil last year, and this year I have an extra 12 plants who have produced excellent fruit. They are also producing side growth, and I'm going to be giving those some soil too - I can't allow good plants to be wasted LOL

    I have also heard that the mother plants can't be grown for more than two - three years, so my original plants have only next season left, and then they're going on the compost, or to the bunny rabbits, if we get any...

  5. What an interesting topic today!

    I've saved tomato seeds and pepper seeds, but mostly flower seeds and have had pretty good results with them.

    I really guess I should start saving more of the heirloom seeds, hugh?

    Why do I still buy from Baker Creek & Highmowing Seeds? Same reason others have listed....they need to be around and I don't mind contributing to their bottom line for something as noble as the continuation of PURE heirloom and non-GMO seeds for others to purchase who man not have the opportunity to seed-save.

    Oh. And it's fun going through their catalog and ordering stuff! Some people buy shoes, some buy nail polish.....we buy seeds!!!

  6. I have saved seed for the first time this year! Two types of winter squash. One is a Hubbard I got from Terri. When I sliced into it, the seeds almost jumped out at me, Saying "Please Save Us". So after placing the squash in the over to roast (with butter and brown sugar!. It makes me drool just to think about it!). I removed the fiber and meat still clinging to the seed and washed the seed in Luke-Warm water, spread them out on newsprint to dry and a day or two later, placed them in a jar, top shelve of a kitchen cabinet.
    The other "Squash" I picked up on the side of the road to use as Worm food. I do not know what type it is, So I will call it "Worm Squash"!
    I handled the seeds the same way as the Hubbard and will plant quite a few this spring. Mostly as a good food source for the Worms, But I will try some to see if it is something I want to add to my diet.
    I'm still waiting on the "Baker's Creek" Catalog too!

  7. I have had strawberries in the same place for the last 8 years or so, and I have to say that they are not producing as much as they did early on. So I started a whole other patch. Again, it depends on the type of plant. And at the end of the day whether your buying your plants/seeds or saving yourself, at least we are all growing something. And that is the most important act of all.

  8. I am incredibly frugal, so for my first garden last year, I saved seeds from almost everything that I grew.You can find tutorials online for specific veggies, and it turns out to be incredibly easy! Green beans, for instance, are as simple as letting the pods dry on the vine and then shelling the seeds!

    I have read some concern over saving potatoes to use as seed stock because of disease that could get introduced into the soil. A quick internet search can provide a lot of pros and cons on that topic.

  9. This is a great post and I too wonder the same things. I have only dabbled in seed saving but this year I would like to try to do it a little more seriously - and not because I won't other others next year - but more because I'd like to see if I can do it ;)

    BTW - I am preparing a post with some info and tips on orchard pruning. Coming soon :)