|Ira Wallace, Owner of Southern Exposure|
Ms. Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a pioneer in seed saving. For more about Ira see article in Mother Earth News.
Over a period of six hours, she covered saving seeds from many types of plants, how to prevent cross-pollination, when to harvest seed, how to process it, how to store it, how to sell it (if you are so inclined). Seed saving always seemed to be too time consuming, too complicated, to iffy--but I'm a convert. I'm going to try planting only open-pollinated seeds - that also means growing my own seedlings, or buying starts of open-pollinated plants. A little less convenient, but a lot of benefit.
Why save seeds? The primary reason is to preserve diversity. Control of the seed supply by a few large companies has caused a concentration of our food production to a limited variety of plants. Other reasons are to preserve plants better suited to our local conditions; to save money and maintain control of our food system; and promote self-reliance. Seed saving also offers assurance about the source of our food, and the environment in which it is grown. We can start with non-GMO seeds and hope our plants are not cross-pollinated by GMO plants.
Not many years ago, seed saving was a common practice. The national highway system made it possible to ship produce for long distance and it became less common to garden, and to save seeds.
Hybrid seeds are not suitable for seed saving, as they may not produce plants with parent characteristics You need seed from open pollinated plants, of which heirloom plants are a part. Self-pollinating plants such as beans, are easiest for seed saving. You can grow small crops with very little or no isolation of plants to prevent cross-pollination.
Speaking of seeds and seedlings, now is the time for all of us to be planning our Fall gardens, and starting seedlings. See post in the VegHeadz blog about August Gardening in Tallahassee by Master Gardener Ed Schroeder.
To learn more about seed saving, and to share seeds, join the Ekanlaunee Seed Exchange, which meets at 6:00 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Leon County Extension Office on Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee.
Some sources for open-pollinated seeds:
Southern Exposure Seeds Exchange (Also lots of growing guides, seed saving guides, and additional information)
Wild Garden Seed
Johnny's Selected Seeds