I gave a presentation to some patrons of the Lafayette County/Oxford Public Library in Mississippi this week about saving seeds from their gardens.
Introducing the new Seed Lending Library, I taught those present about why and how to save seeds. We talked about the seed lending library and how to participate.
One library assistant put together a video about the seed lending library that you can watch here.
So, why should you save seeds from your garden? In a nutshell:
- Seeds extend your garden season
- You don’t have to clear your garden immediately after harvest, let what is left “go to seed” letting the plant dry out and then harvest the seed
- Save money on seeds the next year
- Share your garden; makes it sustainable
- Seed saving and processing is meditative and sensory; a good way to spend a rainy day
How do you save seeds from your garden?
- First plant non-GMO, organic or heirloom seeds. Hybrid seeds will not produce germinating seeds.
- You can start a seed garden or one part of your garden you won’t harvest. Let the plants go, collecting their seeds after the season
- Remove any undesirable plants from your garden; you don’t want their seeds
- Collect seeds: if you grow and harvest fruits (seed bearing food) save the seeds inside these fruits. If you grow herbs etc., use what you want and at the end of the growing season let them flower, and then wait until the seed pods dry, pick before the winter rains start, keep pods/seeds in a paper bag to finish drying out. In the event of an early frost pull the plants out and hang them to dry for a week
- Process your seeds: Dry processing*, wet processing** (see instructions below)
- Store in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Glass jars with gasket seals, paper coin envelopes, Tupperware-style containers. Do not use plastic bags. Add a packet of silica gel to desiccate moisture.
- Keep good records of your seeds: species, variety, year harvested.
- Save some for next year; share some with friends and neighbors
Dry processing involves letting the plant “bolt” or flower long after the plant produces usable leaves or vegetables. Let the flowers pollinate and dry out. Once the pod is brown and dry, carefully remove from the stems and remove seeds from inside.
Wet processing involved soaking seeds such as tomatoes in water for a few days to let the gel sac surrounding the seeds deteriorate so it can be washed off the seeds. Dry and then store in a dry, dark place.