Last week I was able to attend a talk given by Sylvia Davatz also known as the “Radical American Gardener”. Several years go I took a six month long class with her which discussed seeds worth saving and how to go about getting started.
Sylvia is a renowned gardener and seed saver located in Hartland, Vermont. She is passionate about teaching others how to start saving seeds and why it’s an important practice to engage in. During her talk Sylvia explained terms like open-pollinated and hybrid, as well as isolation methods, spacing, plant populations, harvesting, cleaning and storing seeds. The importance of preserving the irreplaceable heritage of biodiversity contained in seeds was discussed.
Over 200 unique vegetable varieties are preserved in her organic Hartland gardens. She grows everything from beets to amaranth! Sylvia is part of a global community saving seeds to preserve heirloom varieties that have been passed down across generations. By planting heirlooms, gardeners are silently protesting the industrial agricultural system and also ensuring these time-tested, community grown seeds will thrive well into the future.
Why are there seeds worth saving? Seeds are worth saving because we have lost over 97% of all varieties that used to be available commercially. By saving your seeds you can help to maintain those seeds that have been grown by families for years. The quality of the seed is far superior to the seeds available commercially and you can harvest the seeds at the ideal time.
In order for you to be able to harvest your own seeds you must be growing an open pollinated variety, not a hybrid. The easiest seeds to start saving are those plants which are self-pollinating such as peas and beans. You don’t have to worry about cross-pollination and the seeds are easy to harvest. Just wait until the pod is dry.
Saving tomato seeds is also easy, but they do best if the seeds are allowed to go through a fermentation stage. By allowing the seeds to go through the fermentation process the seed borne diseases are killed. The seeds of tomatoes are ready when the fruit is eaten.
For other plants like zucchini and cucumber, you must allow the fruit to go beyond the eating stage. Let the fruit ripen well beyond the green stage.
What ever seeds you decide to save make sure they have plenty of time to dry before storing, and store them in a cool, dark and dry place. There are many seeds worth saving. Have you started saving seeds in your garden yet?