There are many things I wanted to try this year as we grew our own food and seed saving was definitely one of them! The more we dive head first into homesteading, the more I am learning exactly how much there is to do here, if we choose to embrace the lifestyle fully, and how much I still have to learn. Of course, the learning part was something that I was prepared for. The part about preparing for the autumn harvest was not... mostly because we have been harvesting produce since June! As October and November approach, I am slowly beginning to realize that we have a lot ahead of us not when it comes to harvesting our food, but for the process of preparing our garden for next season. Saving seeds is just a tiny practice that you can start doing right now to help get ready for the gardening season next year!
Why save seeds? I am definitely not an expert when it comes to permaculture, or really any gardening practice for that matter. I am still a beginner, but one thing I know for sure is that saving your own seeds results in better quality harvests, a reduction of GMOs, adaptation to the environment, and security over the variety of plant you are growing. For instance, do you know how heirloom varieties are grown? They are built up of generations of plants and created into a perfect mold for your garden environment. Pretty cool, huh? Why not try that with your own plants?
As some of you may know, I am about to begin my training as a Master Gardener Intern this month. How amazing is that?! I'll be taking classes all autumn and then will have the entire year to put in my community volunteer hours until I am officially certified. I am so excited to gain some knowledge from other educators and master gardeners as well as to help serve my community. I have some big plans for the upcoming year! And while those plans are being made, I am finding myself trying to remember to take a step back here on the blog before I get too carried away. In truth, I was going to talk with you today about succession planting and what I have been reading, realizing that it's been a bit confusing, and I'm just not in a good place to necessarily teach you about how to make it happen. I am still working on my own plantings in succession, and so far it's working out in my favor! Still, hoping to share that with you perhaps this winter or next spring as we prepare and head into another season of growing vegetables.
But seed saving is actually really easy to do! Have you ever looked into saving seeds from veggies from the supermarket? I feel like it's a common misconception that, "Oh, it's not possible. They won't grow!" which is totally not true. They'll grow... but you still shouldn't grow food from those seeds. Why? Well, unless you're shopping organic, you have no idea where those vegetables came from, if they've been growing with chemicals or genetically modified, nor if they even have a great generational line. If you don't already grow your own food, you could possibly try obtaining seeds from veggies at the farmer's market. Again, I would highly suggest asking the farmer if the produce is organic and if it is an heirloom variety. If not, you may have trouble growing those plants!
I realized that I could save seeds when I noticed that a few of my dill plants were beginning to turn brown and go to seed themselves. I hadn't really harvested them at all for their leaves and was waiting for this to happen! Dill seeds are extremely easy to harvest, and you don't have to use them as a way to get more dill next year. You can just save them for recipes like making dill pickles or in a soup! They'll most likely self sow next year, but I decided to start pinching a handful off here and there to save. The nice part about a plant like dill is that they already dry and turn brown in the sun! No drying inside for me.
As for other seeds, like tomatoes or peppers, pumpkins or eggplants. The seeds are easily found inside the fruits and can be harvested, dried, and stored. The best way to do this is to remove the seeds from a fruit, a nice one that you would consider one of the best produced, and placed in water for a couple of days. This will help remove any plant matter around the seeds. For most seeds, they will sink to the bottom of the water after a few days and this is a good sign. After that, remove them from the water and save only the biggest seeds, which are more likely to germinate. Place them on a paper towel out of direct sunlight and let dry for the next couple of weeks. I always just place mine on a baking sheet with paper towels and store in the pantry out of the way, or even on top of the fridge. After they have completely dried, check for any mold or water damage and throw those away. Store the good seeds in an airtight container or even in a little brown paper seed envelope!
This year, I am focusing on saving the seeds from easy vegetables like fruits. Perhaps next year I will look into saving others like the seeds from greens or brassicas. This chart has been really helpful in figuring out how long saved seeds last and how to harvest them from specific plants! I made a bit of a hiccup when we first began planning our garden by purchasing the first seeds I found. I did not check to make sure they were non GMO or if they were organic. Because of this, I probably won't be saving a lot of my seeds from this past gardening season, but I will be looking into saving some of my flower seeds! There's nothing prettier than flowers arranged in pretty colors, and I do like it when all of the colors match. Must be my photographer's eye! When it comes to saving seeds, be sure to look into your country's copyright laws. Most seeds companies here in US have copyrighted their strands, and you could get in trouble for saving their seeds for your own gain!
Because seed collecting is incredibly fun, I also think it should be pretty! I had Jill design up a little seed packet design for us to use, and I thought it would be nice to share. It's actually a free download that is available in our shop! You'll just be able to put it in your cart and download, and it will arrive to your inbox. Because our website is hosted by Squarespace, our digital links only last 24 hours after opening them. You have to save the download to your computer, or repurchase it to get it back again. I apologize for the inconvenience. If I could change that policy, I would!
You can either print the design on your seed packets or trace it! I find tracing is kind of fun. The download comes with a transparent background option as well so that you may print it to your liking. Looking to get the same seed envelopes I have? I ordered them from Amazon, and they are awesome! In fact, they're the same seed envelopes that Floret Flower uses because I bought seeds from them earlier this year! Really cute paper. It would be fun to do your own little illustrations on all of them for each plant if you don't use ours! (:
You can grab these seed envelopes HERE.
Which seeds are you planning on saving this year? I'd love to hear more about your own experience!