April 2013

Plates of seeds to save for a survival gardenSeed Saving: The Seed

Seed saving techniques vary from crop to crop, but typically start with having a good gene pool from the start.

Most crops that cross pollinate will need a number of parent plants of the same variety to prevent inbreeding. Inbreeding is when related plants (i.e. siblings or relatives) mate or cross.

This causes the offspring to have limited genes, which means that they may not grow well or survive stress. This is important for seed savers to remember if they want productive gardens year after year.

Inbred crops lose vitality and productivity over time- something called “inbreeding depression.” Crops like carrots are especially susceptible to inbreeding depression. Having a large population that can cross pollinate will prevent this from happening over time.

Sharing seed with other folks in your region is another great way to prevent inbreeding depression. This essentially injects new genes into your gene pool.

In order for plants to set seed, they have to be able to flower, and in order to flower, they must have a long enough growing season. If you have a hard frost while your crops are flowering, it may kill the crop or prevent seed from growing. This may mean that you need to start some of your crops indoors in order to give them a long enough growing season.