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Seed Saving is easy once you follow these easy Step by Step instructions to allow you to have an abundance of food to harvest year after year, generation after generation.
First, let us explain the different types of seed that you can save for your seed saving efforts to ensure that you have great success in saving the right kind of seed varieties!
Heirloom refers to a seed which has not been bred with another heirloom to make a hybrid. If you grew an heirloom tomato Brandywine, saved and stored the seed properly and grew that seed the following season, it would grow again as a brandywine as this seed variety dates back to before hybridization. Just how old a cultivar has to be to be an heirloom is open to discussion. Some authorities say heirloom vegetables are those introduced before 1951, when modern plant breeders introduced the first hybrids developed from inbred lines. While there are good reasons to use 1951 as a cut-off, many heirloom gardeners focus on varieties that date from the 1920s and earlier. A few, especially those re-creating World War II Victory Gardens, add introductions from the 1920s, 1930s, and the early 1940s. While some first-rate open pollinated cultivars were introduced after 1951, few gardeners include them with the heirlooms. It is important in seed saving that heirlooms consistently be used to ensure ‘true’ genetic seed quality from one generation to the next.
Open Pollinated Seed:
When heirloom gardeners refer to open-pollination for seed saving, they mean that a particular cultivar can be grown from seed and will come back “true to type.” In other words, the next generation will look just like its parent. Heirloom gardeners are, of course, aware that the term “open- pollination” is a bit of a misnomer, because there is nothing at all open about the pollination of many heirloom vegetables. Take squash and pumpkins, for example. They cannot be left to pollinate each other willy-nilly, or the resulting offspring will be mongrels. While some may be interesting, the original type will be lost. Like the squash family, the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and their kin) also cross pollinate readily, as do several other vegetables. Gardeners who hope to be successful in their seed saving efforts of such vegetables have to isolate either the plants or their flowers to prevent such unwanted cross pollination. Choosing open-pollinated varieties for seed saving requires a bit more planning but offers numerous options in the varieties of food you can grow.
Hybrid seed is the result of a cross pollination between (2) heirloom or open-pollinated varieties which develop into it’s own breed. Just as two parents create a child. Hybrid seed cannot be saved as it will not produce true to one or the other ‘parent’ seed, but rather creates a ‘mutant’ variety. Hybrid seed is therefore never a good choice for seed saving as you’ll never know what you will get! Hybrids can be fun to experiment with if you have the extra time and room, but for the purpose of seed saving for sustainability, it is best to not waste precious time or effort on hybrid seed that will only offer you one seasons worth of food.
Genetically Modified Organisms (abbreviated GMO) is any organism that has been modified or altered by use of genetic engineering techniques. This involves taking DNA molecules from different sources, and recombining them into a molecule to make a new set of genes. Many GMO seed is also injected with the same herbicides, pesticides and chemicals gardeners and farmers use to deter insects and/or for weed control.
One health concern that seems to coincide with the GMO revolution is Morgellons disease. Originally, sufferers were told that their problem was imaginary. This was of little comfort to the people who were suffering.
Morgellons Disease sufferers report strange, fiber-like material sticking out of sores or wounds that erupt on the skin. This is accompanied by painful, intense itching, that has been described as “an ever present sensation as if something is crawling under the skin. Obviously, GMO seed cannot be saved for seed saving, and is extremely dangerous to the human body and the environment which in many instances may cause life long illness and environmental reprocussions. It is last reported that over 93% of all seed companies in the world, now sell GMO seed! Finding a safe seed source such as our Seed company is your best source to purchase guaranteed Non-GMO organic heirloom Safe Seed. Above all, keep seed saving safe and only purchase from trusted seed companies!
#2) Prepare a soil-less seed starting mix with 1/3 peat moss and 2/3 perlite, or purchase a pre-mix seed starting mix.
#3) Choose your germination trays/pots and fill them with damp seed starting mix
#4) Sprinkle your seed as evenly spaced as possible atop your soil-less mix
#5) Take a handful of dry soil-less mix between your hands rubbing gently as you sprinkle the dry mix over the seed, covering them twice the depth of the size of the seed.
#6) Mist your newly covered seed with a spray bottle filled with filtered water
#7) Gently tamp down with your hand to ensure seed is in contact with the growing medium
#8) Cover tray/pot with a plastic dome or plastic wrap and set in a dark warm place (preferably on top of a high shelf or on a heating mat.
#9) Check for seed germination in 2-7 days (most seed will germinate within that time)
#10) As soon as seedlings emerge, remove plastic covering and place them 2-3” below your grow lights to prevent damping off and leggy seedlings. Raise your grow lights as needed. (Adding 2 tblsps of food grade hydrogen peroxide to 5 gallons of water for bottom watering will prevent damping off and fungus.) To the same 5 gallon bucket, add ¼ cup wood ash to help with root development. You can also use rock phosphate.
#11) Foliage Mist your seedlings twice a week with a weak mixture of liquid seaweed. (This provides Nitrogen)
#12) Once seedlings have developed their true leaves (this is usually when they have grown their second set of leaves), pot them up in cells or 4” pots depending on the plant to grow on.
Making Your own Slow Release Organic Fertilizer
4 parts Green Cottenseed or guano
2 parts green sand or woodash
½ part rock phosphate
½ part lime
Use 5-6 cups slow release fertilizer per 1 yard of potting mix
Collecting Your Seed For Seed Saving
Every seed matures at different times for it to be collected for seed saving. For some, once the seed has turned a light to dark brown, it is time to collect it, such as:
Oregano, Parsley, basils, spinach, carrots, swiss chard…etc <<<Cut the stems up to the length of the maturing seed and place upside down in a large paper bag. Most seed will fall out and into the bottom of the bag when dry.
Other seed matures in their pods and are ready to be collected for seed saving once the pod has dried on the vine, such as:
Peas, beans, lupine, butterflyweed, milkweed…etc. Place your pods in a large paper bag keeping out of direct sun, and set in a sunny window until seeds are thoroughly dried, remove seed from pods and store.
Some seed varieties that take 2 years to collect for seed saving are:
carrots, cabbage, leeks, onions, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cauliflower…etc. Allow all brasiacs to overwinter and collect their seed heads in the spring before their pods open. Place the seed heads/stems upside down in a large paper bag and place in a sunny window until seed is thoroughly dried and have fallen out of their pods to the bottom of the bag.
Most all vegetable and melon type seed varieties can be collected for seed saving when you harvest the ripe fruit, they are:
Peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, cukes, zuchinni. Allow the ‘fruit’ to stay on the vines until they are over ripe and have developed fully mature seed. Scoop or squeeze out seed and follow directions below.
How To Dry Your Seed For Seed Saving
Fermentation of vegetable and melon type seeds prior to drying and seed saving:
The gel sac around each tomato seed contains certain chemical compounds that inhibit germination until the tomato ripens, and may contain tomato diseases. In nature, the fruits fall off the plant and slowly rot. As they do, the natural fermentation process destroys the gel sac (including the growth inhibitors and any diseases) and allows the seeds to germinate when the right conditions are present, generally the following season. Saving tomato seeds by fermenting them is the way to mimic Mother Nature’s fermentation process.
Select the tomato(es) (or other veggies)you like best (one variety at a time) and scoop out the seeds. Put the seeds in a jar or container with about twice as much water as the quantity of seeds in the jar. (e.g. 1 Tblsp seeds with 2-3 Tblsp water) Cover the container with its lid or with plastic wrap. (The cover is only so you don’t have to smell the fermentation process – not a delightful experience.)
Keep the container at room temperature for several days. Put it where you’ll see it and remember to stir or shake the contents twice a day. The seeds will ferment faster in a warmer room (80°F – 26°C for example) than in a cooler room (65°F- 18°C). You can often spot individual seeds moving as the “good” seeds sink to the bottom and the non-viable seeds and debris rise to the top.
In a few days, a layer of greyish-white mold forms on top of the water – a good sign. When that layer of mold covers the water’s surface, fermentation is done. If you leave your seeds in the water beyond that point, they’ll start to germinate, so be sure to check the jar often.
When fermentation is done, add more water to the jar – about twice what was in the jar originally. Stir the contents very well, then let the container rest for a minute or two. Separation will occur again – with the good seeds settling at the bottom and more debris rising to the top. Gently pour off the top layer – and add more water. Stir and let rest again, then pour off the top layer. Repeat this process several times until all the debris is gone and only the good clean seeds remain.
Pour the clean seeds into a strainer. Let the strainer sit for a few minutes on a dishcloth or paper towel to absorb excess water, then spread the seeds to dry on a NON-porous surface – glass, ceramic, stainless steel, etc. They’ll stick to a porous surface. You can also leave the seeds in the strainer to dry. Wherever they are (in a place with good air circulation, out of direct sun), stir the seeds around once a day or so. This exposes more seed surfaces to air, for more even drying, and also prevents clumping.
The drying process takes a few days. The more humidity, the longer it takes NO cheating, please….putting seeds in a microwave or food dehydrator or oven, even at a very low temperature, saps their fertility. Not good.
To test for dryness, bend the seed. If it breaks it’s dry; if it only bends, let it dry further. When properly fermented and stored, tomato seeds for seed saving can last 5-10 years. As a bonus, seeds dried in this manner germinate in just a few days, especially in the first year or 2 when they’re very fresh. They diminish a bit in viability each successive year.
Solar Drying For Seed Saving
Solar drying is the most thorough, fastest and least expensive way to dry your seed uniformly for seed saving!
Place seed stems in your paper bags in a sunny window on it’s side. Stir contents twice daily to increase airflow. Open end of bag must be facing away from direct sun. The paper bag will absorb any moisture in the seed as the sun slowly solar dries the seed. This may take from 3 days to 2 weeks depending on the density of the seed.
For podded seed, follow the same directions as above…you may choose to remove the seed from their pods prior to placing in your paper bags, but that is not necessary.
Once seed is thoroughly dried…it’s time to separate and clean your seed for storing.
How To Clean Your Dried Seed For Seed Saving
Cleaning your seed can be a time consuming task for some varieties, but with a little bit of practice and patience, you will have all the seed stock you wish to have for next seasons growing plans.
For most all seed collected on stems, gently shake the stems against the inside of your paper bag to loosen the seed from it’s ‘pods’ or spent flowers. Most of your dried seed will have already loosened and fallen to the bottom of the bag.
Carefully empty the contents of your bag (while not allowing the stems to fall out) into a large bowl. The heavier seed will fall out first followed by some dried plant debri. Find an appropriate strainer that would allow the seed to fall through, but not the larger plant debri. Repeat these steps until you have all seed separated from the plant debri. A finer strainer may be needed to separate the ‘dust’ debri from the seed which will strain out the smaller particles from the seed.
You can now place your seed in a well marked plastic or glass container. Do not use paper products to store your seed in as many rodents and insects will compromise your seed and dine on it for their winter food.
For podded seed, simply remove the seeds from their pods if they haven’t already fallen out to the bottom of the bag…follow the same steps to further clean your seed if needed.
Storing Your Seed Fro Seed Saving
Now that you have all of your seed properly marked with date and variety in glass or plastic containers…store them in a dark container such as a large cardboard box or a plastic tub with lid. If you are using a large plastic tub…you want to be sure to line it with newspaper so the contents remain in the dark. On old large cooler with lid works well too. Seed exposed to light makes your seed less viable. Place your container in a cool dark place such as a basement or dark corner of a garage until you are ready to plant the following year.
Now that you have successfully saved your seed…you may want to help others feed their families with all the seed you saved!
About Our “Need For Seed” Program
Seed Saving for those In Need
Help us help you and your neighbors become sustainable!Our NON-GMO Organic Heirloom Seed is part of a HUGE NON-PROFIT effort for the ‘NEED FOR SEED’ Program. Your purchase helps us to donate 100′s and even thousands of seed packets to families across the U.S. and locally who can not otherwise afford to purchase Organic Heirloom seed which is needed to help feed their families and become sustainable.
Find all of our available NON-GMO Organic Heirloom SeedHERE.
Our Heirloom Seed is Naturally Grown using 100% Organic Practices free of all chemicals and pesticides.
Growing right with Organically Grown Heirloom seed ensures your health and sustainability through generations to come…without it, the human race will not survive!
We raise over 80,000 Organic Heirloom Plants each and every year for sale, consumption and seed saving. Our Heirloom seed is highly acclimated to cold Northern temps and their rate of survival is far superior to that of any hybrid or GMO seed which cannot be manipulated to colder climates without radiation, chemical and herbicidal applications and gene manipulation.
Starting with the RIGHT heirloom seed is the very key to Organic growing, your health and sustainability!
As an on-site volunteer: Organic Heirloom Plants is currently looking for volunteers to help us seed, plant, grow, raise, collect and package seed for the “Need for Seed” Program. In exchange for your efforts, you will receive seed packets of your choice for this seasons (or the next) growing efforts and/or fresh produce and plants when available. Volunteers will learn hands on experience on how to grow Organically, How to plant with companion plants for optimal plant health…disease and pest free! You will also learn how and when to collect the seed needed for the program and have hands on experience on how to dry and clean the seed for storing. It takes 100′s of hours of effort to grow seed crops for the program which helps so many people become sustainable.
As a volunteer seed grower: All Volunteer seed growers for the “Need For Seed” program will receive free seed in which to grow for the “Need for Seed Program” ½ of the crops must be saved for the program while the other ½ is for your own use. Organic Heirloom Plants may provide a combination of FREE seed or plants to accomplish this as there are some plants that cross pollinate. With the extension of Volunteer seed growers to the program, we will be able to provide many more varieties of Organic Heirloom Seed to the program!
*All Seed MUST be Heirloom or open pollinated and grown with 100% Organic methods without the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides and MUST be TRUE to their species (no hybrids).
*All Seed MUST be isolated and not cross pollinate with similar varieties/species.
*All Seed MUST be thoroughly cleaned, dried and packaged accordingly either in glass or plastic jars or sturdy plastic baggies and be ready for drop off, shipping or pickup by Oct. 1st of any year.
*A Minimum of ½ of all seed crops must be saved for the Need For Seed Program.
Seed Grower Benefits
*Seed Growers will receive FREE seed and/or plants to grow for the Need for Seed Program or can use their own Organic Heirloom Seed Varieties with the benefit of using ½ of the crop for their own use.
*Seed Growers will receive The wholesale value of all seed successfully dried and saved in equal value of seed packets for next growing season. (If your wholesale value of seed saved is worth $65, you will receive $65 in seed packets of your choice).
Seed Growing Goal
It is the goal of the Need For Seed Program to be 100% member supported/supplied and that each Volunteer Seed grower will aim to produce and save 1,000-5,000 seed from all varieties grown. There will always be crop failures and set backs…so do not worry if you do not meet this goal. All seed is appreciated and accepted!
Many of our Organic Heirloom Seedis now 10 generations growing! This means, we have grown our very own Organic Heirloom seed plants for 10 generations, saving the seed from each generation of plants grown ensuring that our seed has been acclimated to our harsh Northern climate. Each year, we grow, collect, solar dry and clean over 150 varieties of Organic Heirloom Seedand then package approximately 25,000 seed packets, ready for sale. Find us on theSAFE SEED LIST HERE!
What’s more, our organic heirloom seed company does something that no other seed company does…we donate 100% of all of seed packet profits to those in need, locally and nationwide. Three years ago, we saw a huge need for families and individuals to be able to find a seed Company that was affordable. Millions of families go hungry each and every day with over 85% of them being children. Just how does this happen in the land of the brave and the home of the free where opportunity should be abound for everyone? With Millions of jobs and companies moving over seas to attain lower labor costs..the answer is clear.
We believe our Motto is one of the solutions to the problem: “Give a man a tomato, and you feed him for a day; show him how to grow an organic heirloom tomato seed, and you feed him for a lifetime!” This my friends, means sustainability for generations to come to eliminate hunger amongst our neighbors, friends and families. Although many organic heirloom seed companies may raise monies for those in need, we take it much more further to ensure all families in need become sustainable on their own for years to come.
Unlike other non-profit organic heirloom seed companies whom pays their employees first…all of our seed is 100% donated and the help of a few of our volunteer seed growers. No one gets paid accept for the 100′s of families and individuals in need whom receive our donated Organic Heirloom Seed Packets. SEE US HERE LIVEon our Local TV news!
Our volunteer seed growers get special treatment. Each volunteer seed grower receives free seed that they will use to grow for our “Need For Seed” program, making sure that no seed varieties are cross pollinated. Without their help, we could not offer all the pure organic heirloom seed varieties that we have to offer today.
In order to accomplish this, first we need to sell enough seed packetsto cover bottom line costs of printing, supplies and shipping which amount to $1,000′s of dollars. As soon as bottom line costs are covered through seed packets purchasesthrough our seed and plant company website, we begin to ship seed packets to all those in need that have submitted their ‘need’ to us. Each ‘need’ individual or family that contacts usor is anonymously submitted to us with their need receives a minimum of 20 organic heirloom seed packets, many times 50 or more depending on the need and size of the family. Imagine 50 organic heirloom seed packets going to just 100 families. That’s ALOT of seed packets! But this is only a beginning!
This means, purchasing Organic Heirloom Seed packets from our organic heirloom seed company makes your purchase count to help stop hunger in America for 100′s of families! This is our mission…we welcome you to make it yours as well. Consider supporting us with all your Organic Heirloom Seed packet purchases this year and make your seed purchase count-knowing, you just took the biggest step in helping fight hunger in the U.S. as well as ensuring sustainability for your own family for generations to come!