What is Seed Saving and Why Should I Do It?

By on April 10, 2013

If you’ve become interested in self sufficiency, you may have heard something about “seed saving.” Not a lot of people understand that seed saving is an important aspect to living off of the grid or even just reducing those extortionate food and grocery bills. So what is seed saving, and why should you do it? Why does saving seeds of plants that we love and enjoy matter?

 

When you grow a plant, like a tomato vine or carrot, you start with a seed. A seed is a dormant, baby plant, waiting for the right conditions to sprout and grow. Not only does that seed eventually provide food, but it may also make tens, hundreds, or even thousands more baby dormant plants next season, creating more food for you.

That seed also carries the genetics of hundreds to thousands of years of breeding, tailoring that plant creating the best, most nutritious, and the healthiest version of itself possible. This can vary depending on region, kinds of flavors and cooking qualities that are valued by certain groups of people, and appearances valued by certain groups of people. A lot of work went into that seed, especially if it’s an old heirloom variety. (Hybrid seeds are unstable and not usually worth saving past a season, as you don’t know what phenotypes you’ll get out of the saved hybrid offspring).

Seed saving is preserving the diversity and genetics of plants that keep us healthy and well-fed. Seed saving is also preserving blueprints of our past, the lifestyles of our ancestors and the unique flavors of the land we proudly inhabit. Not only will seed saving help to guarantee food, but it also keeps a piece of our culture and traditions alive!

 

So How Do I Start Collecting Seeds for Saving?

There are many ways to go about stockpiling seed, but a few things are the same all around. Seeds worth saving tend to be old, stable, healthy heirloom varieties. These are seeds that have genetics that promote plants with good health. This means the plants are good at adapting to harsh conditions, grow edible parts that are worth the effort, and tend to be resistant to common diseases and pests. This not only means that the plants you grow each season will be reliably uniform so that you know what to expect, but the plants won’t require chemicals and fertilizers that you won’t have.

Another thing to think about when stockpiling seeds is how you’ll store them. Most all seeds stay viable almost indefinitely in a cool, dark place that’s sealed so that gas exchange from the seeds and the environment is kept at a minimum. Some seed savers dedicate an old refrigerator with the light removed or cellar to their seeds, and store their seeds in sealed glass jars- as an example. There’s no one way to do it, as long as the conditions are right – cool, dry and dark.

Seed saving is an extremely important aspect to to growing your own food, if you want to be free of having to buy new seeds each season. If you haven’t begun looking into seed saving, now would be the time! It’ll not only help guarantee healthy food, but it’ll help preserve a little bit of our way of life that many people enjoy and worked so hard for.

About Angie

6 Comments

  1. billy

    May 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    You’re correct about the “New Improved” seeds not being worth saving. Only the “Heirloom” type seeds will reproduce properly. My father has saved seeds all of his life, seeds my grandfather used. We always kept them in a deep freezer. Well, the freezer quit, seeds ruined. Sad day for us.!!! I wish I’d known that they didn’t have to be kept in a freezer!! we could have just “Jared” them, and kept them in the house!! Never too old to learn something! Thanks

  2. Melissa

    July 6, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Where can I find non hybrid seeds? How do you know the difference? The jars you use, do they have to be pressured sealed? When should you harvest seeds? I’m a beginner in self sufficiency. My goal for now is making my planting bed and growing my own food. My next step is learning how to preserve food, and now harvest seeds. I just started buying seeds today, but now I want to make sure I buy the right seeds. Thank you for helping.

  3. sharon

    February 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I have the same questions as melissa above. Where do you get non hybrid bees?? And when s starting to grow them what is the best way?? I’m very new to this but am determined to become a bit self sufficient considering I live way north and we have a short growing season. Also because I’m in the north I understand that my area is classified as a 5 or a 7 I can’t quite remember. But how do I know which ones will be best for my area???

  4. Russ Crow

    December 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Saving seeds by putting them in the freezer is not a bad way to preserve their viabillity for longer periods of time than just putting them in a jar and keeping them on a shelf. Freezer kept seeds will remain viable for two to three times longer than seeds kept at room temperature. You just got to check and make sure the freezer is working once in a while.

    Do a germination test on your seed starting around the sixth year your seed has been in storage. If your germnation percentage gets down to about 70 percent then I would say it’s probably time to replentish that particular variety of plant with some fresh seed you have grown.

    If you want to access frozen seed for the purpose of planting them in your garden. Always make sure you allow a container of seed to completely warm up and allow the temperature to equalize with your room temperature before opening a frozen container of seed. Otherwise you will ruin that seeds ability to grow.

  5. Anonymous

    April 9, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Buy non GMO seeds!

  6. Russell Crow

    September 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Another very good reason to save seeds of your heirloom variety is that if you find one you really like. Don’t always expect it to be available from the original source you obtained it from. Perhaps you got your variety from another gardener and perhaps one day because of age that gardener will no longer be gardening. Sometimes varieties will disappear from the catalog of a heritage seed company and you won’t know how many years it will be before they list it in their catalog again. So if a variety has become important to you even if it’s available elsewhere, Save It!

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