Ordering seeds/Saving seeds

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 - 8:57pm

 

When I started ordering seeds for my garden in my new climate six years ago--for USDA Zone 8 versus Zone 5--it was over $200. All of them were, of a necessity, small packets until I knew what would grow here. I had to get my initial heirloom seeds for propagating, and I was experimenting with several things: would some of my old favorites grow here? Would I be able to save these seeds? I ran into new weeds (Spring AND Autumn seeding!), new insects, and differences in the growing season as odd as the one month most of the garden dies of the heat in August.

Last year my seed order was $40. This year it was $15. I mostly save my own seed now.

Some of the things that will shorten your learning curve we've talked about before. Get your soil tested. Check with your local agricultural service as to what varieties work best in your area. Talk to local small farmers and see what they grow. But some of it is the learning curve of actually saving the seeds. Part of it is allowing the natural predators to take over, learning companion plantings, finding out which mulch works best, learning where to get your seeds (local is better; big box stores are not your friend).

Keep at it. It gets easier, and less expensive.

9 Comments

HughK's picture
HughK
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 6 2012
Posts: 764
Farmer grows cantaloupe in Prince George BC

I'm not at the point where I am gardening consistently enough to be saving seeds, but here's a good article on how  Andrew Adams, an organic farmer near Prince George, BC, has developed a cantaloupe hardy enough to grow in a Zone 3 climate. Adams and his wife, Janie Roberge, are doing a lot of work to promote local agriculture in Northern BC.

Farmer grows cantaloupe in P.G.

Heirloom varieties of seeds are typically open pollinated seeds. These varieties are bred for flavour and heartiness in different regions of the world. Typical hybrids are often grown in foreign countries and they always promise high yield but it's at the expense of flavour, Adams said. After doing some research he found the Noir Melon variety of cantaloupe developed by French monks, which was grown in a colder area of France.

...

To develop heirloom seeds the grower pulls the seed from the best cantaloupe each season. A perk of the heirloom variety of seed is it will adapt to regional climates, said Adams.

...

"So we now have an even better strain of seed," said Adams, who started the Seed Saving Initiative through the Eaglet Lake Farmers Institute that turned 100 years old this year.

"I am encouraging farmers within the institute to start developing seed and to start saving seeds," said Adams. "Typically this is something that's been done through government grants and agricultural experimentation stations but those don't exist here anymore so it's up to the local farmers to do it."

 

 

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1221
Cow pea seed

Very healthy, prolific, drought tolerant...easily saved and hybridized.

will share seed on first come first serve to gardeners in zone 5 or higher.

robie

ronpoitras's picture
ronpoitras
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 21 2010
Posts: 23
saving tomato seeds

Saving tomato seeds is as easy as pie.  Take one of your best looking open pollinated tomatoes from your garden in the fall and bury it in a  4 - 5"" pot, filled with seedling mix, or compost, or your best garden soil. Water once, place in a cool dark place, like your basement, over the winter.  Late spring, early summer bring pots into the air & sunlight.  Spread out in a seedling tray & water well.  In a week or two you'll have plenty of little tomato seedlings popping up!  Haven't tried this with other veggies yet but I plan on trying this technique with peppers this year.

And Robie, if you're reading this, I love to have some of your cow pea seeds!

Jbarney's picture
Jbarney
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 25 2010
Posts: 233
Beans/Corn/Squash

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for posting this.  When I first got into the idea of "prepping" one of my first purchases was ALMOST one of the seed saving kits....the ones with thousands of different types of seeds.  Thankfully I held off on that.  I am sure it would have been a good buy, however experience has proven a better option.

I have never gardened much, but over the last few years I have gotten back into it a bit.  While I like having a good variety, especially tomatoes, kale, and other things, I have pretty much fallen in love with history, to a degree.

I don't think I will ever have much success with corn, and I am not sure I want to put a lot of effort into something which has minimal to average benefits.  For me the real gold of the garden, especially within the mindset of prepping, are the beans and squash.  The dry beans (pole and bush) have numerous varieties and store really easily.  Collecting them is a lot of work, but their shelf life is just too easy.  Same thing with the squash.  I still have a lot of squash in my basement from last growing season and we are still making soup and other dishes with it.  

Peace,

Jason

Tbil2's picture
Tbil2
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 13 2011
Posts: 4
Saving Seeds Easier Than You Think

Tried my hand at growing grains in the backyard the last couple of years. I decided to go with Giant Golden Amaranth. Each plant can yield up to 1lb.  What a trip.  Baby leaves can be eaten like salad greens or cooked like spinach.  Prolific producer and can be great for feeding backyard fowl. I dry the stalks and use in my outdoor fire place.  Will cross with wild amaranth but I have managed easily keeping mine pure strain.  I now plant it and forget it.  I am including some info I have found on it along with some pictures of this magnificent plant. 

Amaranthus cruentis
Yields of over 1 lb. of white seed per plant have been reported on striking plants to 6’ tall. Golden stems and flowering heads. May be planted anytime after risk of frost is past, up to 2 months before cool weather. Also known for its edible leaves.

An ancient, annual, heat-loving grain from the New world that is just now being rediscovered as an excellent food source. A member of one of the great weed species so will grow in almost any garden soil. Thrives in heat and full sun - in fact shows a high endurance for summer heat and drought. Best to keep watered though. Often grown as an ornamental - and if you do, do not enrich the soil as poor soil brings out the colors. Both the leaves and the grain are high in protein and vitamins. Amaranth provides essential amino acids missing in other grains, in particular has a double dose of lysine which is often missing in vegetarian diets. The leaves are eaten like spinach, but are less acid, and so you get more of the nutrients. The grain heads are high-yielding. Varieties are chosen for optimal leaf or grain - we have both vegetable and grain types - see our Grains section for grain amaranth. Both types are very ornamental, love heat, and are easy to grow. Plant after all danger of frost is past in full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Start after your last frost date when soil is warm. When seeds first start to drop to the ground cut heads and hang in protected place with good ventilation over tarp or plastic to catch seeds. When dry rub heads to remove seeds and winnow. Also known Chinese spinach. Leaves are eaten raw, obiled, steamed, or stir-fried. Used as a nutritious vegetable, in soups, stews, curries, fritatas, omlettes, pastas, sauces, etc. Tampalas large leaves can be used as a wrap like grape leaves. The crisp interior of large stems are a fine cooked vegetable like asparagus.. A. tricolor / W,H/Matures 6/Harvest 4/Yield 68-272/Spacing 6

Vegetable Seeds, Amaranth, Amaranthus cruentis

Yields of over 1 lb. of white seed per plant have been reported on striking plants to 6’ tall. Golden stems and flowering heads. May be planted anytime after risk of frost is past, up to 2 months before cool weather. Also known for its edible leaves.

One packet will plant 65 sq ft when using Grain 12", Leaf 6" spacing in the bed.

(Select Cultural Info/Seed Codes in red top bar for more details about codes below)

EA CULTURE: W,H/Matures Grain 12, Leaf 6/Harvest 4/Yield Grain 4-16+, Leaf 68-272/Spacing Grain 12", Leaf 6"

DAYS TO MAT: 100-120

SEEDS PER PACKET: 100

SOURCE CODE: GB

PLANTING DEPTH: 1/4"

WHEN TO PLANT: May to early June

PACKET LABEL INSTRUCTIONS: Start seeds in flats or sow 1/4 inch deep and 12" apart directly into beds after all danger of frost has passed. Keep soil moist until seedlings are established, but after that water sparingly. Does best under dry, warm conditions. Harvest when seedheads mature and dry out. Can be threshed and winnowed by hand.

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 934
I too, havo experience with golden giant.

My experience includes the plants being destroyed by a hurricane, hafway through the growing season. As a result, the growing point was replaced by four, and the plant still had almost a full yield.

If you're going to do GG in any quantity, you need some window screen to make a thresher, and a fan tho blow the flowers (they're not really hulls) away from the stream of seed.

But that plant indeed is prolific.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1221
seed saving

send me a PM with address and I will send some. Been saving the seed for10-15yrs. esp. the traits my family prefers.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1221
HughK's picture
HughK
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 6 2012
Posts: 764
Sepp Holzer on seed selection

I was reading Sepp Holzer's Permaculture before bed and came across this passage on seed selection:

I have established through my experience that the seeds of the strongest plants, which grow on the worst soils and under the most extreme conditions (high altitudes, frost, etc.) are the most suitable for propagation, because they have positive energy and establish themselves well.  In academic journals the opposite is often to be found.  They claim that the seeds from the largest plants, which grow on good soils, should be preferred.  As far as I am concerned, these seeds would be the worst choice.  Although plants growing on good soils do produce the most seeds, it is my experience that plants bred in this way deteriorate.  

Seeds collected from the strongest plants on the poorest soils, on the other hand, provide plants that can also deal with difficult conditions, because they are undemanding and still give satisfactory yields.  For me these are the best selection criteria.  I also continue to breed hardier and more robust plants which can grow and thrive on their own without the constant support of fertilizers and water.  

Naturally, I pay attention to the taste of the varieties when selecting seeds.  Nutritious and high-quality food develops an intense flavor and contain many valuable substances, to the extent that it works almost like a medicine and protect people and animals from sickness and poor health.  healthy food also develops this flavor.  Anyone that has a sense of taste and has been even partially protect from ready meals and fast food can use it to determine the quality of seed-producing plants.

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