Seed saving is exactly what it sounds like: when your plants complete a full cycle and produce seeds, you can save those seeds to plant in your garden next year. Saving seeds ensures you have free seeds to plant next season, and you can sort of "play God" here... for example, if you only save seeds from your healthiest and strongest tomatoes, you will develop a cultivated variety of tomato that becomes your very own perfected heirloom tomato! They're also a nice gift to give or trade with fellow gardeners.
My boyfriend's grandmother saved her seeds, and this year I planted some of her Spider Flowers from seeds that were saved from seeds that were saved from seeds and so on. I like knowing that I'm continuing the tradition.
Every plant comes to seed at different times in the year, usually at harvest. In addition, each type of seed requires a different preparation to preserve it for next season. My first plant to come to seed this season is my chive plant, and that also happens to be the easiest seed to save!
Here's what I did:
I knew my chive plant was ready to have it's seeds taken because the small purple flowers on the plant had started dying and began to feel like dried flowers. Plus, if you look really closely, you can see the black seeds being pushed out of the flower.
The seeds practically fell out when I touched the chives, so all I had to do in this case was catch the falling seeds in a small airtight jar where I could store them over winter. Always store seeds in a cool, dry place, such as a drawer in the refrigerator.
That's it! But it's not always that easy. Just wait until I show you how to save your tomato seeds... it involves creating mold to eat away at the thick seed casing! And saving potato seeds? Well, that involves a blender and a potato seed milkshake. Seriously.
Saving seeds is important for our agricultural history as well. The Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit group that takes seed saving seriously. In their own words, they are an "organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations." The SSE tracks down seeds from all over the world and grows them in a preservation garden, growing 25,000 rare vegetable varieties to fight against the vegetables' extinction. Yes, vegetables can become extinct: in the year 1900, there were 8,000 varieties of apples being grown in America. Today there are only 700 varieties, and the rest are gone forever.
One more good reason to save seeds: If I don't collect them now, they'll blow around my yard in the wind and end up sprouting somewhere else where I don't want them! I'll just pull them up as weeds at that point anyway, so I might as well save myself the work.
Anyone want some chive seeds for next year?