Monday, July 13, 2015

A Chat About Seed Saving

My garden is slowly but surely beginning to give up the harvest. Saving seeds this year is a goal of mine, to save a little money for the next growing season. I'm beginning my seed-saving journey by saving seeds from a cantaloupe, which I bought at the farmers market, since I didn't grow any cantaloupe this year. 

Here's a little video I did about how to save cantaloupe seeds:

As I stated in the video, seeds can only be saved from open-pollinated plants. But I want to share some seed-saving tips with you that I didn't cover in my video. 

When you want to save seed, be sure to get seeds from the healthiest, disease-free plants in your garden. You don't want to pick seeds from lettuce that bolted early, a tomato plant that had blight,or a squash plant that had powdery mildew. Any seeds you save from sickly plants have a higher chance of producing weak plants the following year.

Selecting the healthiest, most robust plants to save seeds from ensures that only the best seeds get saved, and it also allows your plants to adapt to your growing region, which means that over time the seeds you save are adapted to your soil and climate, and that means more resistance to diseases.

Now, before you select your fruit or vegetable to save seeds from, let it grow until it is fully ripened. This will mean different things depending on what seed you are saving. For example, for beans and peas you have to let the pods completely dry out before saving the seed.

If you are growing plants specifically to save the seed, be sure not to plant different varieties too close together. So if you want to save seeds for a cantaloupe, for example, and you have a small growing space (like I do) then you need to pick one variety to grow. You also have to be careful about planting too close to where a neighbor plants. They may be growing a different variety of the same plant,which will affect the pureness of your seed (think heirlooms). Remember, bees and other insects do travel.

If you have a large growing space, be sure that the varieties are far enough apart that their pollen can't reach each other. The amount of space you will need between plants will depend on the plants you are growing, and how those plants get pollinated. Some plants are self-pollinating, some are pollinated by winds, and some are pollinated by bees and other insects. Those are all factors to consider when planning out the garden. 

Finally, before you save your seeds, do a little research on how to save them. The process to harvest and clean them will be a little different depending on what type of seeds you are saving. Saving seeds isn't difficult, it just takes a little research and a little effort, and you learn a lot about plant varieties and plant traits in the process!

So that's it for now. Until next time....

Happy gardening!

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