Blog / Gardening

Expand Your Gardening Chops, Save Seeds

By Amy Ockerlander

Harvesting seed from your own garden is the ultimate act of self-sufficient organic gardening. Saving seed protects our food heritage, supports a resilient local food system and signals the end of the growing season.

You might think seed saving is complex or only for those with vivid green thumbs. As with many things, seed saving can be complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Choose plants that are non-hybrid varieties, also known as open pollinated (OP) or heirloom. Hybrid seeds will be labeled or have a F1 or F2 designation. Only non-hybrid seed will grow a new plant that resembles the parent. Here are some great seeds to start saving – runner beans, arugula, parsley, cilantro, dill, and kale.

To harvest seeds, allow plants to flower and form seed pods or fruit. Mature, viable seeds will be brown or black (not green) and come away from the plant easily. Harvest whole stems when seeds are mature. Put seed pods or flower stalks in a large paper bag in a dry location away from direct sunlight. Shake flower stalks or crack open dried pods to harvest seeds.

Originally printed in Seattle Tilth’s newsletter, Way to Grow, August-September 2011.