Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook
Simply save seeds from all the plants which do well in your own garden each year, and your seed collection will begin to adapt to your local conditions and gardening habits.
Using a few basic rules and some common sense, you can help this process along—and even use it to create new varieties specially adapted to your own gardening conditions and culinary tastes.
Read more: Breeding New Varieties
Seed prices have risen steadily in recent years, at the same time as the number of seeds in a packet has fallen—often there are as few as 25 seeds in a packet of commercial seeds.
You can save your own seeds for free, usually, and you can save as many seeds as you like. You can easily save enough seeds to have plenty for sharing with friends and other gardeners in local or online seed exchanges. Trading with friends can greatly increase the number of different varieties you can enjoy—without spending a cent!
During the 1900's we experienced a startling drop in the number of heirloom varieties—because gardeners stopped saving and trading their own seeds. When we rely on commercial seed companies, any seeds that sell slowly simply get dropped from production and disappear.
This loss of varieties translates into lower genetic variability in our food plants. Lower variability means lower adaptability to stresses such as disease or climate change. Each time a seed variety is lost, we lose another chance to feed ourselves in a world of changing climate and shrinking resources.
Read more: Saving Heirloom Seeds
As scientists isolate and then 'splice' genes for pest resistance into food plants from wild relatives, an unexpected error occurs.
Wild plants resist insect pests through several natural defense mechanisms acting in cooperation. When these defensive genes are spliced into plants one-at-a-time, the synergistic effect of several genetic defenses working together is lost.
Pests are often able to overcome the defenses of the individual genes in under a decade—after which those genes become useless for further protection.
Lastly—even while it's easy and takes little time—saving your own seeds is deeply satisfying. Watching your seeds grow and mature from flower to seed lets you connect deeply with Nature's cycles and seasons. Knowing how to produce the seeds that you will use to plant your garden each year creates feelings of self-reliance and empowerment.
Reprinted from Vegetable Seed Savers Handbook, Jack Rowe 1998, howtosaveseeds.com