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The art of saving seed has been practiced by gardeners long before there were commercial seed producers.

In fact, most of the vegetables and flowers we have today owe their existence to the fact that these early gardeners, with an eye for quality, saved the seed of their best plants, sowed them the next year, and in this way improved the species.

In recent years, the responsibility for maintaining and improving vegetable seed has been assumed by seed companies; however, it is still possible for home gardeners to save their own seed.

In recent years, the responsibility for maintaining and improving vegetable seed has been assumed by seed companies; however, it is still possible for home gardeners to save their own seed.

To do so successfully, they must be familiar with the basics.

Plants in the garden come from either seed or transplants.

True seed possesses an embryo in a dormant state. Under the right conditions, it breaks dormancy and produces a plant based on its genetic makeup.

Transplants, on the other hand, are living plants or plant parts that begin to grow under favorable conditions without benefit of an embryo. In this group are bulbs, tubers, corms, cuttings (“slips”) and whole living plants.

It is still common practice for home gardeners to dig dahlia and gladiolus before the ground freezes.

However, it is not so common for gardeners to save the seed of flowers and vegetables.

This is perhaps because seeds are relatively inexpensive and seed producers have a reputation for selling seed that germinates well and is true to the variety named on the package.

Before saving seed, consider the method of , the time of seed bearing, whether the plant is a hybrid and the manner of seed collection.

Pollination

There are three pollination methods of concern to the home gardener: air-borne, insect and self. If the seed produced is to have the same genetic composition of its parents, it must be pollinated with pollen from the same variety. In the case of air-borne pollinated crops, there must be no other varieties within a mile shedding pollen at the same time. If there is, some of the harvested seed will result from a cross between these two varieties.

The closer the varieties are located, the higher the percentage of crossing.

If a crop is insect pollinated, there should be quarter-mile separating varieties. Otherwise, some of the seed saved may result from the crossing of the varieties located within this quarter-mile radius.

Self-pollinated crops offer the best opportunity for a home gardener to save seed because the pollen is transferred directly to the stigma within the flower. Even though this occurs automatically, there is some pollen that escapes and can be transferred to an adjacent variety. To avoid this, separate varieties by a few rows of another crop.

These requirements are closely observed by commercial seed producers, who are much more concerned about trueness-to-variety than the average home gardener. However, if home gardeners totally ignore these guides, they will be disappointed in the results.

 

 

 

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