While we've all heard about the benefits of growing your own food, seed saving is a lesser known practice that has the power to revolutionise your garden's potential!
Seed saving is when you harvest seeds from your crops to plant later! It is a sacred practice, pioneered by Indigenous communities from around the world, that has been practised for thousands of years, and is important for preserving crop diversity, increasing flavour and nutrition, and encouraging adaptation!
Seed saving promotes environmental stewardship, and a greater appreciation for where our food comes from. When done on a community level, seed saving strengthens our food systems against climate uncertainty, as crops are better adapted to the local environment.
That all sounds pretty good doesn't it! So what do you need to get started on your seed saving journey? It's not as simple as just cutting out the seeds when harvesting your fruits and vegetables - there is a specific method involved.
Step 1: Selecting Seeds!
The first thing you need to decide is which plants you are going to save the seeds from! While it is possible to seed save from all plants, some seeds are easier to save than others, so if you're a beginner, here are some good options to get started:
The reason that these plants are easier to seed save from are because they have self-pollinating flowers, meaning that they are less at risk for cross-pollination. In contrast, seeds of plants like corn and squash are harder to save, as they are more at risk for cross-pollination.
Just make sure you plant an heirloom variety! Some hybrid plants produce seeds that have the genetic material of only one of the parent plants, which means that the produce may not grow.
Step 2: Harvesting Seeds!
When and how to harvest the seeds is dependent on which crops you're growing. It is different for every plant, so make sure to do your research! As an example, here is how you would harvest the seeds from a tomato.
- Wait until the fruit is fully ripe on the plant
- Scoop out the seeds and pulp
- Place in a jar of water and leave for a few days, until the seeds have sunk to the bottom
- Pour liquid away, and rinse the seeds
- Leave them to dry on a paper towel
Step 3: Storing Seeds!
Once the seeds are fully dry, pop them in individual envelopes, and store in an airtight container, in a dry place above ground level.
Make sure to label them correctly! Include the name, variety, and date of collection.
And there they are! Ready to be planted next season!
It's important to acknowledge and respect where the wisdom of seed saving comes from - Indigenous communities from around the world, the traditional custodians of the land. Here are some fantastic Indigenous-led seed saving projects that we can support and learn from:
- Environs Kimberley, in Western Australia
- Qachuu Aloom, in Guatemala
- Indigenous Seedkeepers Network, In Turtle Island (North America)
Header Image from Unsplash.