The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Five reasons to save seeds

Reasons to save seedsWhen I got started with seed saving, I was mostly trying to save money.  But the more seeds I saved, the more I realized the true benefits go beyond finances.  Here are my top five reasons to save seeds:

1. Pure geeky fun.  Letting your garden come full circle is very satisfying, and the seeds themselves are beautiful.

2. No guilt when over-seeding.  If you buy seeds, especially expensive ones like hybrid cucumbers, you may feel obliged to make each seed count.  But when you save your own, you nearly always end up with way too many seeds.  So there's no reason not to put two seeds in each spot, meaning you don't have any gaps and can select for the hardiest individual.

3. Control over varieties.  When buying seeds, you're at the mercy of the seed companies.  If you love a variety, but the company wants to replace it with something they consider more profitable, then you're out of luck.  But if you save your own seeds, you'll always have your favorite varieties on hand.

Zinnia seedling

4. Free gifts.  Since you'll inevitably have too many seeds of each type, you'll be able to give starter packs of your favorites away.  Or you can swap them with friends or strangers.

5. Saving money.  Okay, yes, you save money too.  We spend only $100 per year on seeds even though we grow all of our own vegetables, plant heavily, and buy from an expensive supplier.  With a small backyard garden, you could cut your seed costs to pennies.

If you want to learn more about saving the easiest seeds, check out Weekend Homesteader: August.  The more advanced seed saver should start with this post.  Happy seed saving!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Great advice as usual. I will be planting a few summer varieties from seeds saved last year. I let a few winter veggies go to seed but am not sure how to tell when they are ready. I have broccoli, radish, etc that have flowered and formed seed pods. How do I know when they are ready to harvest? I opened a couple yesterday each containing green and black seeds. Which one gets saved?

Thanks for the continued advice and homesteading tales.

Comment by Tom Sun Mar 30 07:31:03 2014
Tom --- I haven't specifically saved broccoli and radish seeds, but I'll bet it's a lot like saving kale seeds. With kale, I wait until the pods are brown and dry, at which point the seeds should all be dark brown or black. (Click the link to see photos.) I hope that helps!
Comment by anna Sun Mar 30 14:05:14 2014

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