The Importance of Seed Saving

I’ve saved seeds from some of my favorite heirloom or open-pollinated (OP) vegetables especially during covid-19. But I wish now that I had saved more. Next year we might have another seed shortage as we’ve had in 2020. When I went online this week to one of the major seed companies, I already saw ‘out of stock’ on some varieties. Is it because the seed companies just haven’t gotten the seeds in stock or they had some crop failures or maybe their farmers couldn’t get enough help to save seeds due to CV? Are they are coming out late? Who knows. No matter, as I found it alarming that seed companies who would normally have their new seeds by now are ‘out of stock’ on some seeds-not all, but some.

Now that the season is over, and I’ve cleaned out my garden and the last tomatoes are gone (I did save some tomato seeds), I thought are there any more vegetables I still have from the garden where I can still save some of the seeds so late?

 

The answer for me was yes. I found some Jimmy Nardello peppers that I grew that were stuck in the back of the refrigerator. My seed stock didn’t germinate last year as it was too old. The nurseries were sold out too. I was lucky that a friend had some extras and gave me some. So, in case I couldn’t buy seeds for next year, I took a couple of those Jimmy peppers, cut them open, and saved the seeds. Pepper seeds are easy to save. You just have to take the seeds out and dry them for a few weeks on a paper towel or wax paper till they are really dry-you don’t have to do anything special to save them except keep them from blowing away. Then store in plastic baggie, envelope or some other container.

 

Beans are another easy crop to save. I’ve saved both green and dry bean varieties. What’s the difference when saving those two? Nothing! I still have to wait til they dry in the pod before taking the seeds. I have some Di Casalbuono Panzariedd dry beans that I shelled (see picture above) and now they are in glass jars, just waiting to go into that Instapot this winter.

I also have one Waltham butternut winter squash left. I can save the seeds from it once I cut into it. They are a little more messy as you have to remove the stringy stuff and the seeds are a bit slimy but I will wash the seed slime off and then let them dry out on wax paper before storing.

So besides saving seeds from some vegetables you grew (that you liked), I feel it’s important for us to save seeds for future growers and to continue vegetable varieties. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new variation of a variety. If the world ran out of seeds, we’d all get hungry pretty quick.

I also noticed that the price of many seeds seem to be higher this year in the seed catalogues which is another good reason to save your own seeds.

Remember to only save heirloom or open-polinated vegetables as hybrids will not grow out true to the same variety. Could you grow a hybrid seed? Of course, but you just wouldn’t know what it might turn out to be.

I know it might be too late for many of you this year but start to think about saving seeds in the future. This CV, if nothing else, shows us we can’t take much for granted. Save seeds-save money.

 

Saving Seeds Yet?

Ok I’ve been obsessed with harvesting the garden and getting ready for our first cold snap tonight. I think I’m ready for it. But now the weather people say it will be 38°F tonite which is still plenty cold for tomatoes but hopefully it won’t get down to freezing tonight in the garden and then the nighttime temperatures will go up into the 40’s. Definitely cooling off but I’m hoping we will get another 3-4 weeks without freezing weather to extend the season. I’m already FRIED with all the harvesting I’ve been doing but I always have the winter to recoup. rest. recharge-and dream of the next season.

So are you saving any vegetable seeds yet? Do you remember this past spring when COVID 19 first hit? I don’t know about you, but I remember a vegetable seed shortage not only locally at our nurseries but also many national seed companies ran out of seeds too. Plus many veggie starts were sold out right away in our local nurseries. And I heard it might happen again next spring. So with this in mind, I’m saving some of my seeds of my favorite crops so I will have some vegetable seeds for next year to grow.

I will save tomato, winter squash, lettuce, beans (both green beans and dry beans), summer squash, sweet Italian peppers and many different flower seeds. How do you save seeds? There are many online sources on how-to save seeds for you to investigate and I will have a mini-series on saving different seeds starting with tomato seeds by next week, once I film the whole process.

Besides saving seeds to replenish our supply of seeds, you can also save seeds of any unusual varieties or abnormalities within a variety that you grow. Look around your garden. Have you found anything unusual that you like?

Pink Glass Gem corn

For instance, I found 2 ears of glass gem corn I grew that were different shades of pink out of many rows of multiple color glass gem corn 5 years ago that I continue to grow to stabilize it. Now there are no other colors other than different shades of pinks. It is now an F5 (fifth generation) so it’s probably pretty stabilized. You can read about it here.

Santoro lettuce

I also save a particular open-pollinated lettuce seed that for the last couple of years I couldn’t find online anymore. It is called Santoro, a wonderful butter lettuce that melts in your mouth and produces large heads. My Santoro lettuce seed supply still germinates at 100% but I want to keep the supply fresh since I can’t find it anymore. You can read about it here.

Moby dwarf cherry tomato with anthocyanin on the shoulders

I’m currently doing a trial on a Craig Lehoullier dwarf yellow cherry tomato plant called Moby, where I’ve discovered 2 years ago some tomatoes that had a slight purple blush called anthocyanin on the shoulders and they are sweeter on the Brix scale than the regular yellow variety. This in the second year of growing it out.

I went to Italy 2 years ago and while there got some dry beans from the market in Florence that are not available here. This one is called Rossa de Lucca and comes from the Tuscany area. They are hard to find here in the states and so I did cook some up and saved some to grow out and now I have a steady supply of them.

So you can save seeds to not be caught shorthanded for next year (like we were this year) or for saving new possible varieties. Try it, it’s fun!