My annual garden size limits me to no more than a half dozen of any one type of plant. From my understanding the genetic diversity of having many plants is important to producing both strong healthy seeds, and strong healthy plants. So I'm left wondering about the efficacy of my seed saving efforts. Oh I should also clarify that I do not make any particular efforts to pollinate in a controlled manner.
So are there particular plants that it makes more sense to seed save under these conditions?
Conversely are there types/plants I should definitely avoid based on my conditions and habits?
Hi Jackie. Any plant that is a strong self pollinator should be ok to collect from even a single plant. So, for example, tomatoes, peas and beans are worth saving. While I think they'd all be better off as open pollinated landraces like Joseph is and has created, the varieties of tomatoes, peas and beans we mostly grow will be ok. It also helps that those three are also super easy to save seeds from.
I think seed saving is a good skill to know, even in a small garden. I am remembering the Spring of last year when seeds were out of stock practically everywhere. If I can save even some seed, that's less I'm beholden to the seed companies.
Yes to the reasons mentioned above, i'd like to take it a step further and say that one should only keep plant varieties going that will produce enough viable seed, otherwise try a new one from another producer. Best would be a seed exchange or get it from neighbors. Getting seed that work to a seed exchange means that others can mix all varieties and landrace themselves. Sorry if i'm too optimistic.
You can try to start earlier and have all your seedlings killed and try again. You can give some to other people who'd like to start, or exchange or sell. It's very valuable that if you have a collection of varieties that work in your area that people that want to start can start with something that works.
It's very discouraging that seed companies sell from the best soils possible, weak varieties that need a lot of tending to and chemicals instead of selling seeds that will work on the most terrible grounds without chemical molly coddling.
This man shows what one can do in a small garden.
Creating edible biodiversity and embracing everlasting abundance.
I will probably be in the minority here, but for me, it’s not worth it. My reasons are:
1. Why do something poorly, when I could instead support someone who does an amazing job at seed saving/plant breeding? In my region there is no shortage of amazing small farmers selling open-pollinated, regionally adapted, unique varieties.
2. By not saving seeds I am able to produce a lot more food in a much smaller area. For example, in one year from a single 3x8 ft plot I will harvest a variety of overwintered brassicas, followed by fresh fava beans, followed by sweet corn, followed by hardy greens. Requiring plants to grow to maturity limits your ability to succession plant.
And finally, 3. I just really, really love buying seeds. Maybe it’s materialistic of me, but pouring through catalogues is what gets me through the winter!
That said, I do think it’s important to be aware of seed saving and to have some knowledge about it. If one particular plant does exceptionally well, I’ll often save the seeds. If my circumstances change and I end up with a lot more space, or if I move somewhere that regionally adapted varieties are hard to come by, maybe I’ll do more seed saving, but for now it’s not for me.
Stacie Kim wrote:I think seed saving is a good skill to know, even in a small garden. I am remembering the Spring of last year when seeds were out of stock practically everywhere. If I can save even some seed, that's less I'm beholden to the seed companies.
I agree with this! I save seeds of plants I really like because that is something my Mom taught me.
I put them in the freezer until I need them.
It is good to try and breed better plants if that is something a person wants to do. It is like a hobby.
I just like saving seeds just because I might need them one of these days.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work. Stephen Herrod Buhner