Tuesday, September 30, 2014

High calorie gardening requires saving seeds from some of the plants you grow.

An important part of high calorie gardening is growing those staple crops that are easy for you to grow. Part of this will involve saving your own seeds. I personally follow the five year rule for plants and animals. That rule states that I do not know if a plant or animal is adapted to my location until I have raised five consecutive generations. To do this with plants I have to save seeds. I do not raise all my seeds and roots but that is a topic for another conversation.
So for a part of a high calorie garden you will need to know the basics of saving seeds. I got my start from my Grandpa Ernie when I was young. I learned more as an adult from attending garden presentations and from buying books before the Internet was the place to go. I still highly recommend
Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition by Suzanne Ashworth, David Cavagnaro and Kent Whealy
For a free kindle book
Seed Saving For Beginners: Save Time and Money Preserving Rare Heirloom And Organic Seeds by Frank Xavier (Sep 4, 2014)

So how do I get started saving seeds.

Before you can save it you have to have the seed to grow.
Look for local seed exchanges in your area.
Below are some sites to help you find seeds you can save.

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation program in the world.

Mother Earth Magazine seed and plant finder

PlantScout - Dave's Garden website
Does a good job at finding sources for plants and seeds


Here are some of the major seed saving organizations.
These are great places to get started and learn.
They also sell seed saving supplies.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers more than 700 varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain and cover crop seeds. We emphasize varieties that perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, although gardeners and farmers from all over the country grow our seeds.
You will find products to dry and store seeds and information on saving seeds at their site.

Their mission is to promote sustainable, ecological, organic vegetable seed production in the Mid-Atlantic and South. Saving Our Seeds provides information, resources, and publications for gardeners, farmers, seed savers, and seed growers.

Organic Seed Alliance
Check out their new organic plant breeding manuals that walk farmers through the methods of breeding new seed varieties on their farm. The publications include an introduction to on-farm organic plant breeding and three crop-specific breeding manuals covering carrots, sweet corn, and tomatoes.

Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.


Below are sites that have information on seed saving.
These are sites I picked because the interested me.
Some are high level and some are written for the lay person.

Guidelines for Successful Seed Storage & How to Make A Miniature Home Seed Bank, PDF format
A. Yoshinaga, Center For Conservation Research And Training- June 2005

The real seed catalog
This link has instructions for drying seeds with rice. Very old school but it still works well.

Basic information from PSU showing effects of moisture content in seeds.

Basic information on the effects of temperature and seed moisture levels on seed storage.
Seed moisture level and temperature are the two biggest factors in seed viability of stored seed.

Manual of Seed Handling in Genebanks, PDF file

Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and forest biodiversity
This is their link to seed saving information.

Equilibrium Relative Humidity as a Tool to Monitor Seed Moisture
By measuring relative humidity you can make predictions on the seed moisture levels.

Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds
Nice chart showing the average years a seed package should be good.

Longevity of Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) Seeds Stored at Locations Varying in Temperature and Relative Humidity, PDF format

Seeds can be damage by extremely low moisture content.
Science papers that address different aspects of this.

Storage of Seeds
Dr. Bonner is a scientist emeritus at the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station,
Mississippi State, Mississippi   -  this is a PDF file

Principles and practices of seed harvesting, processing, and storage: an organic seed production manual for seed growers in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern U.S. – PDF file

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation program in the world.

The Ohio Seed Exchange is a non-profit organization, whose goal is to provide home gardeners with a medium through which they can find and communicate with other gardeners in their area who would like to exchange open pollinated or heirloom seeds.


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