Ironically, saving seeds has become somewhat of a lost art in that the industrial revolution spawned industrial agriculture and has been a significant cause of this practice’s demise. And that’s really a shame, especially when you consider how simple this practice is and the long range benefits that it provides. In order to save seeds properly, you need to familiarize yourself with 2 aspects of any plant’s life cycle namely the color, shape, and size of the plant as well as how it is pollenated.
3 Categories Of Plants
Learning how to categorize plants is an essential component of seed saving. There are 3 categories to familiarize yourself with:
• Annuals – these plants complete their life cycles within a single year from the time they germinate to the time when they produce their seeds. Lettuce and tomatoes are primary examples of annuals.
• Biennials – although these plants are harvested in summer and/or fall, the production of seeds occurs during the following year. Examples of biennials are beets and carrots.
• Perennials – this is the only plant that bears seeds and lives continually year after year. During the fall and winter, we typically see the top portion of the plant die. Then it comes back to life in springtime, using the same root system throughout. Perennials are typically the flowers one grows in their garden.
2 Forms Of Pollination
Another key aspect of saving seeds is understanding how plants are pollinated. This usually occurs in one of two ways:
• Cross-pollination – with this method, insects or the wind carries pollen from one plant to the next, whether to a different plant or on the same one, and fertilizing it in the process.
• Self-pollination – unlike cross-pollination, there is no transmission of pollen between plants. It occurs within the same one.
Tips For Saving Your Seeds
Keep it simple in the beginning and consider saving seeds from beans, lettuce, peas, peppers, and tomatoes. As you learn more about seed saving, you can expand your practice by incorporating other veggies into the mix. After you have harvested your seeds, allow them to dry for a few days by placing them on newspaper, plates, or wax paper. Remember, the larger your seeds are, the longer it will take them to dry.
Store your seeds in a cool, dry place. Colder temperatures typically won’t affect them and you can even store your seeds in the freezer to increase their lifespan and viability. Store your seeds in airtight glass jars, plastic containers, or tins. The primary benefit of this practice is that it allows you to partake in the cycle of life while easing the burden of living off the land.