This month we asked two experienced staff members at Seed Savers Exchange to share their knowledge about saving seeds from biennials. Our Field Manager, Bryan Stuart, and one of our Field Technicians, Trevor Madsen, took the time to answer a few questions about biennial plants. Read on for their detailed responses or click through the slideshow for some quick biennial seed saving steps.Read More
The introduction of the Limited Edition “From the Preservation Gardens” line of seeds to the SSE catalog in 2013 brought the heartwarming, funny, and sometimes curious stories of varieties from our on-site preservation collection into the homes of thousands of Americans. The SSE catalog is responsible for producing an annual infusion of fresh pieces of history along with member favorites.Read More
It’s 10:00 PM. Do you know where your children are? Some of you may be too young to remember this public service announcement from evening television programing during the 60s and 70s. For some reason, I was reminded of it when I sat down to write a blog post about seed storage. Does your seed storage system help you fulfill your goals for your seed? Does it manifest intention more than neglect? When spring time comes, do you know where your seeds are?Read More
Are you an apartment dweller with a green thumb? Or a novice who's daunted by the thought of a full-blown garden? Well, don’t fear because we’re here with a list of lovely varieties that thrive in containers. And we’re here to tell you that you don’t need a yard to be a seed saver.Read More
The onset of spring has us dreaming about the vegetables that will fill our gardens during the summertime. But it is difficult to imagine summer’s bounty when your pepper plants are two inches tall and your onion stems are so thin you can barely see them. So why don’t we take a walk around a summer garden?Read More
In the fast-paced world of the Preservation department, the year is divided into two seasons: field season and getting-ready-for-field season. After a long, cold, snowy winter, we just crossed the threshold back into field season with the sowing of the first lettuce seeds, which are already eagerly emerging and putting on their first true leaves.Read More
The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) quarterly member publication, The Heritage Farm Companion, is now being made available online and our 2014 Spring Edition has just been posted.
Non-members can get a preview of this edition by reading about SSE's past and upcoming farm-to-table collaborations with the Pepperfield Project in this article by David Cavagnaro.Read More
The Preservation Lab at Seed Savers Exchange was buzzing with activity on this Friday afternoon in February. With about 13 full-time employees whose specializations range from germination testing to seed storage and everything in between, there's always something interesting happening in the Preservation Lab.Read More
Some people mistakenly believe that farmers have a “down season.” Without the twelve hour days harvesting and weeding, a winter spent reviewing crop spreadsheets and lounging by a wood stove might feel like vacation. Winter: that mythical space between the last harvest and first plantings, where all wrinkles get ironed out and new vortexes of time are uncovered. Day trips? Sleeping in? Hanging out with friends? Everything seems possible now, within this precious window. Winter slows everyone's roll, it’s true, but farmers are often working throughout the seemingly dormant season.Read More
In our grandparents' day seed saving was just part of gardening.
Store-bought seed, like store-bought anything, was a luxury for my Grandma. She could only afford to order what she couldn’t easily save- for instance, the seeds of biennial vegetables like carrot, cabbage, beets and kohlrabi. The whole community saved their garden seed back then. It was as natural to gardening as planting and harvesting crops. I helped my Grandfather pluck the seeds off his morning glories each fall and never thought I was doing anything out of the ordinary. The seed—along with the skills on how to save the seed—was passed down from generation to generation.
Over the years, this seed saving component of the garden has vanished and garden seed has become something you simply purchase each year from your favorite catalog or garden center. It is understandable, then, why new gardeners would not be aware of how their seeds were produced in the first place, and so the process is often perceived as somewhat mysterious.
Today, planning your garden for seed saving is really not that much different or any more difficult than it was back in the days of my grandparents. Some of my garden favorites like tomatoes, beans, peas and lettuce are self-pollinating crops that don’t readily cross, so they’re easy to save. Of course you must have non-hybrid varieties so the seed your harvest and plant will produce the same variety as the parent plant (read more about open-pollinated, hybrid, and heirloom seeds here).
This past year I was pleased to be involved in creating a new Seed Saving Collection for the Seed Savers Exchange catalog. This starter kit includes some of our popular varieties that could be grown side by side in one garden, plus step-by-step seed saving instructions for each crop type. I’m excited to offer a solution for all those gardeners who thought seed saving was somehow difficult. It’s easy to become a seed saver!
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.