Permaculture blog

Seed Saving - 2

Published by Lorna Harvey-Frank on 11 April 2013


Seed Saving

What is the purpose of seed saving?  As a permaculture group we are working towards becoming more self-sufficient in food growing and also towards supporting each other as a community, creating opportunities to share resources, knowledge, experience and harvest. We also wish to have more control over our food  and make our own choices as to what types and varieties we eat.  This year the group placed a bulk order with The Real Seed Company, a small family run business based in Wales, where all the seed is grown onsite. This gave us the opportunity to split packets between us and have small quantities of different types of vegetables, some of which we might not normally grow, enabling us to experiment without having to buy whole packets of seeds we ultimately might not use.

As seed saving is new to most in the group, some of us will undertake to save the seeds this season from one specific type of plant that we not only like, but know grows well in our garden and save seeds for the whole group.  We will then later share what worked and didn’t and hopefully get to share some seeds for the following growing season. 

Over time by saving the seeds from strong healthy plants from generation to generation, we will have plants that are well adapted to our local soils and also to the evolving climatic conditions – resilience in action, we hope!  Also growing a diversity of crops will mean lower susceptibility to pest attacks and if one crop fails due to adverse weather conditions, hopefully another will thrive.  And if one person has a glut of anything there will be plenty of opportunities to swop with others, so an all round win-win.

The Garden Organic website is a fantastic resource and gives some very specific guidelines for seed saving.  Here are a few points to consider:

  • Seeds need to be from open-pollinated varieties (not F1 hybrids)
  • It is important to keep the variety pure by avoiding cross pollination as this will weaken the plants and cause them to mutate over generations
  • Extraction of seed depends on the crop.  Go to the Garden Organic website to find guidelines for a specific vegetable
  • Cool and dry are the ideals for seed storage.  Moisture and warmth will reduce the life of the seed.
  • To store for longer than the next season, seeds may be kept in an airtight container in a fridge or freezer
  • After storing, allow seed to come up to room temperature before opening and also to rest for a couple of days

The Permaculture Group's seed swop event at the Marlborough Communities Market in March of this year was a big success and there are plans to repeat this every Spring.  Save some of your seeds and be a part of this next year.   In the light of the recent attempts of certain large corporations to control our access to seeds, this is now a priority if we want to maintain our food sovereignty and natural diversity of plants and foods.

Links to two very useful short videos demonstrating how to save seeds from carrots and brassicas