Episode-1449- Seed Saving and Land Races with Justin Huhn

Learn more About Justin's Work at TheSeedKeepers.com

Learn more About Justin’s Work at TheSeedKeepers.com

Justin is an organic farmer & seed grower, and an impassioned gardening and seed-saving educator. He co-founded All Good Things Organic Seeds, a farm-based seed company in Ojai, CA.

Through the process of establishing an organic seed company, Justin became an expert in growing, harvesting, cleaning, and storing seeds of hundreds of different species. Now with his current project, The Seedkeepers, he is focused entirely on supporting and educating gardeners to grow more food and successfully save quality seed.

Justin is a long time TSP listener and community member and joins us today to discuss, the role of Hybrid seeds in a survival garden. Developing LandRaces and why every survivalist and homesteader should be doing it.  The importance of seed quality, starting with good seed, and why seeds you save yourself are the best.

Resources for today’s show…

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13 Responses to Episode-1449- Seed Saving and Land Races with Justin Huhn

  1. Another great episode. I am assuming land race and the term I learned as local ecotype are synonyms. My future permaculture site is close but still suffers from extreme STUN for the most part. I work 8 straight nights every 2 weeks 10 hour shifts so anything that needs to be babied tends to suffer. Today I brought home seeds from 3 pepper varieties to save and 2 tomato varieties. My hot Hungarian peppers crossed with I suspect Jalepeno and some Habanero genetics to produce an F1 cross I called Hotter Hungarian. I think it will be cool to see how the F2 generation of these pan out. I think next year I will grow a mess of these and isolate from any other peppers and have fun seeing what develops. This year I also got a dramatic illustration of just how important living organic soil is. At home I put in tomatoes from transplants 12-14 inches high into ordinary clay based soil with decent mulch and some organic content. They were watered frequently using halogenated city water at times and basically babied. About 2 weeks later I found volunteers of last years cherry tomatoes growing in the Echinacea patch about 2 to 3 inches tall “planted” by those pesky chipmunks. Over at kypharm, I have been playing with creating a woody bed using largely a mix of organic materials from 4 different suburban properties. The woody material being of many different species and varying stages of decay…greenwood to rotten punk wood. layers of last years leaves and dried grass clipping and other organic wastes were added with the soil that was removed. I figured that it would need a while for the fungal net to form and the soil bacteria to establish But I planted those volunteers there anyway. The store bought tomatoes just did not do well. Localized drought conditions (nothing like TX or CA) did not help and F and Cl in city water just kills soil life. They have since been added to the compost pile. Meanwhile my tiny STUN tomatoes growing in the woody bed just went nuts. The cages collapsed under the weight of the sprawling vines. I brought home another 2 boxes of fruit from these 4 volunteers. It is noteworthy that the F1 cherry tomatoes produced fruit that were 2.3 to 2.5 times larger than the parent stock. Most likely soil is the major factor but could genetics also be part of the story. I will save the seed and try some at both locations and see how the F2 plays out. The genetics is just too cool. Thanks…gonna make some salsa now.

  2. One of the things I have pulled from this interview is that I need to encorporate much more hybrids (I currently use none) in to my garden, especially until I get some locally adapted varieties. My biggest problem with purchasing seed online is it just does not do THAT well. Especially tomatos. (two years in, and we’ve yet to have much for tomatoes).

    Also makes me realize I need to get in touch with some local seed savers who have already started the process of creating regionally adapted garden plants. I’ve had such little luck with gardening plants that I’ve lost just about all interest in gardening. Too much work, very little in return. Garlics, Onions, and Sweet Potatoes have been the exception to that.

  3. So if I plant the seeds of a hybrid tomato from my backyard, they’d still germinate and produce, except that the fruit will not be the same hybrid where it came from? The reason I ask is because in a backyard where everything is clustered, it is hard to avoid cross pollination, so the seed harvested from the backyard will most likely be a hybrid, right?

    My mother has a raised bed right outside her kitchen where she throws away all seeds from fruits and vegetables she uses in the kitchen. Stuff grow there like crazy with utter neglect.

    • Sorta kinda. The good thing about tomatoes and other nightshades are they’re really easy to keep a single variety since they have flowers that are basically bee pollinated. (I say basically because even to have them self flower you need the tiniest bit of disturbance that wind can provide, ask Ben Falk about his green house tomatoes which are stupid amazing looking but require hand pollination).

      Other things not so much. If you want to keep seed on those guys just put a seed saving mesh bag around the flowers and once it turns into a fruit it should be of the same type. (Now I’ll say this is with non-hybrid varieties).

    • Hey Jose,

      Tomatoes are very easy to keep from cross pollinating, the cross pollination rate under normal conditions is about 5%. They have perfect flowers which means they will pollinate just fine without any insects, vibrating the plant by tapping on it is the minimum needed to ensure pollination. I just whack em with a stick or shake the vine real good if they are in a greenhouse excluded from bees.
      Just keep them separated by a couple rows of other vegetables, 10′-25′ and you should be fine. I try to keep only 1 type of potato leaf variety in my garden at a time, they have longer stigmas and cross pollinate more readily.

  4. My cousin just showed me this podcast tonight, but on the subject of tomatoes, cloning them is rather simple. Around this time of year I cut new growth from the plants I love and place them in water with a pea sized piece of chicken litter, the plant roots and I over winter them in my mini aquaponic system in the house. Works great! Good luck with all your seed saving, plant making art.

    • Hi Marc. I’m planning to do that this year for the first time. I’ve started already with a cherry tomato branch my cat broke off one of my plants. Placed it in water and within 4-5 days, root system had started growing and one of the cherry tomatoes still attached even ripened. One thing I’m really looking forward to trying mhpgardener’s “clever” method of starting clones in soil while still attached to the mother plant. It’s pretty awesome if you haven’t already seen it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gxRKRGslYs

  5. Great episode, thanks Justin and Jack. Quick question regarding genetic diversity. When Justin recommends starting with as many seeds sources as possible, preferably three or more, I assume he means of the same cultivar correct? He said species but I just want to clarify. For example, if I want to develop a Black Krim tomato hardy to my area, I would start with Black Krim seeds from multiple vendors – Victory Black Krim, Burpee Black Krim, Baker Creek Black Krim, my neighbor’s, etc. So multiple sources but the same cultivar (as opposed to Black Krim from here, German Pink from there, etc.) Thanks a lot. Probably obvious but wanted to be sure.

  6. Thanks Nick, I appreciate the clarification.

  7. Great podcast! I’ve experimented with a few hydrid tomatoes but had poor result in the NW Costa Rica heat. If you had any awesome hydrid suggestions for this region, I’d love the hear. I’m doing dirt gardening but I’m also using an aquaponics system.

    We’re currently focusing on perennials that make large amounts of nutritious food with minimal input and no starting from seed. There are so many species of edible tropical plants that I was not aware of! So far it’s been an adventure.