Episode-1054- The How, What and Why of Saving Seeds

There is Magic Within Seeds but Saving Them Isn't Mystical

There is Magic Within Seeds but Saving Them Isn’t Mystical

I was talking with Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design yesterday about how more and more small seed companies are now buying at least some seed from companies associated with the ilk of Monsanto.

Ben was pretty shocked to hear the Johnny’s Selected Seeds is buying some of their seeds from Semanis, which is owned by Monsanto.

There is a lot of fear about GMO contamination both legitimate and ridiculous specifically when the word Monsanto comes up.

The best solution is to save your own seeds but we are going to also discuss how to know who you can trust when buying seeds and times where you simply do not have to worry about GMO at all.

Join me today to hear about…

  • What is “the safe seed pledge” and why should you care
  • Why we need to be saving seeds in the first place
  • Breeding improvements vs. hybrids vs. GMO (all three are different)
  • Exchanging seeds – a great form of barter
  • The easy plants to save seed from – beans, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes
  • Separation rules – why they exist and not stressing them
  • Staggering pollination times to create effective separation
  • Herbs and unusual plants are often easy to save for and over looked
  • Storing your seeds once they are harvested (is cold storage a good idea)
  • How to clean your seeds, what you need, what you don’t need
  • Growing your own hybrids – hybrids are not always bad
  • How to hand pollinate and ensure purity with squashes and melons, etc
  • Saving root crops like garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes for replanting
  • The rewards of regionally adapted plants
  • Breeding for any and all traits, it really isn’t hard

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

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12 Responses to Episode-1054- The How, What and Why of Saving Seeds

  1. Maybe an episode from the car for old times sake?


  2. Been hoping this would be a topic soon… Actually been hoping for a while now. THANK YOU! Should get to listen to it in the morning!!! 🙂

  3. Is there an equivalent in plants to inbreeding in animals?
    Loved this show, I am my third generation of Brandwine tomatoes.
    I cannot grow enough, everyone loves them.
    Thanks, Pete

  4. Jack,
    When making self-pollinations on corn for seed for the next year, the bag over the shoot is more important than the bag over the tassel. There’s a good description of the whole procedure with pictures up at http://www.chaseiowa.com/webfiles/Instructions.pdf . From personal experience, a pocket knife works as well as the garden shears they use.

  5. I’m glad you touched on this today Jack. I was perusing my seed catalogs and could not find an “early girl” tomato seed anywhere!! A little research and I found that both Territorial and Johnny’s (my 2 favorite companies) phased out Seminis seeds, due to Monsanto buying them (Seminis). Here’s an excellent blog post on the subject: http://www.nwedible.com/2012/12/a-brief-history-of-monsanto-and-seed-houses-who-got-screwed.html

    I save a lot of my own seed. But because I sell plant starts at farmers market; I need to buy some seeds. But I like your ideas on trying my hand at hybridization. If you can find any type of database, or start one – man that would be worth it’s weight in gold!!

    Thanks! Melodee

  6. Jack,

    Your idea of an informational resource for people creating different hybrids is great. Don’t rule out the idea of people repeating others’ failures, though – different seeds, locales, soil, weather, etc – all these could be reasons to repeat a given combo with some different variables. Either it works and you might learn what went wrong the first time, or you truly prove that the combination itself is a failure.

    Great show as usual. Thanks!

  7. Jack,
    When you say sweet potatoes do you mean yams, or are you talking about sweet white potatoes?

  8. MichiganNimrod

    Great show Jack. Thanks!

    My grandma recently passed and going through the house we found 3 sheets of news paper from 1990, the fall before my grandpa died. On each one was a few dozen seeds he was saving to replant. They are marked as Sweet Potato Squash. I have them now and am excited to see how well the germinate after 22 years stored on top of the kitchen cabinets. If I can get any to grow you can bet I will be saving them for a very long time. I feel a great connection to my grandfather with them and plan to pass it onto my kinds.

  9. Hey Jack, great show. Is the Japanese purple you spoke of also called an Okinawan sweet potato? If possible can you provide a link to a place I could buy some slips from? Thanks for all you do.

  10. I found this on Duck Creek Farms. Does that sound like the Japanese Purple you have?

    Light beige skin, purple flesh. Flesh gets darker and deeper purple when cooked. They are surprisingly sweet when cooked. Pretty foliage plant as well. Slow grower. Needs a VERY long, hot growing season. Preferably 140 days or longer. Originally from Japan…They will form roots out away from the center of the plant…

  11. During Episode 1054 you mentioned building a database with seed crosses where people could login and document seed crosses.

    I think this would be a great idea and also a tool people could utilize to build, develop and strengthen the community.

    Thanks for a great show, Jack.