Down to Earth - by Madison Co. Master Gardeners


Seed Saving

Gentle spring rains and warming temperatures are creating ideal conditions to plant vegetables, flowers and herbs.  Plan now to collect seeds later this fall.  Share them with friends, use them in your own garden or donate them to a local seed library. 
 Reasons to save seeds include the following:
·         Improvement.   Save seeds from the best plants to preserve desirable qualities.
·         Acclimatization.  Consistent yearly seed selection results in plants adjusted to your local growing conditions.
·         Heirloom Strains.  Celebrate biodiversity by saving seeds of varieties that may not be readily available commercially.
·         Open Pollinated Varieties.  Grow non-hybrid varieties that retain the original taste and nutrition often sacrificed
          when creating hybrids.
·         Non-GMO, untreated seeds.  You control the practices used to produce seeds saved from your garden.
·         Self-Reliance.    A cache of carefully stored, self-saved seeds is a source of security.
 A few tips:
·         Start with only open-pollinated seeds.  Seeds saved from hybrids will not grow true to type.
·         Peas and beans are a good choice if you are new to seed saving.  Both are self-pollinating and won’t easily cross
          with the neighbor’s crops.
·         When harvesting for eating, leave the best pea and bean plants to dry naturally in the garden for about a month.
          Then harvest the seeds from the pods and  let  them dry inside on a tray an additional two weeks.
·         Store the seeds in a cool, dry, dark place.  Label the container with the variety, year collected and characteristics
          of the plant.
For more information:
·         Visit online.  Also, YouTube has many seed saving videos.
·         Check your local library for books on seed saving.
·         Visit your local ISU Extension and Outreach office.
·         Consult a Master Gardener.
·         The Winterset Public Library has a Seed Library.  Check out seeds, grow them, save some and donate them back to
          the library in the fall.  515-462-1731.

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