Seed saving is one of the most important things you can do for your home or community garden. But not all seeds today are equal. Most seeds you buy at supermarkets or plant shops are hybrid F1 seeds which may, at best, only seed once and the next generation will produce less seeds or sterile seeds, or worse, GMO seeds which will contaminate your organic gardening efforts.
The best seeds to buy so that you can save them for use next season are native, local seeds, also called heirloom seeds. These are genetically pure seeds which preserve its biodiversity and will produce fruits and vegetables that are tasty, nutritious, and selected over hundreds of years by farmers who knew which seeds to keep from plants that are resilient against many conditions like drought, flood, and even pest and fungal infestations – important traits to have in these times of chaotic climate change!
Here are some easy steps to start saving heirloom seeds from vegetables you can easily start when you begin in your own garden.
Cut in half and squeeze the juice and seeds into a glass jar. Close the lid and keep the seeds in this container in an area away from light or sunlight and the temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius. Keep it for two weeks or until a white fungus begins to form over the seeds. When this happens wash and completely dry the seeds for storing until next sowing season.
Peel and cut the eggplant into small pieces. Keep these pieces in a glass jar and add filtered water. Close and keep away from direct sunlight for a month. Shake and open the jar at least once a week to allow built up gas from the fermentation to release. After a month, wash and dry the seeds completely.
Leave the pumpkin on the vine to ferment in nature. The seeds are ready for collecting when you cut the pumpkin in half and they separate from the stringy pulp easily. Pumpkin seeds have a slimy covering that protect it but will also make them difficult to germinate it sowing season. So before storing them, rub them into a bit of organic wood ash to remove this coating.
Storing the Seeds for Next Season
Ensure that your seeds are completely dry before storing. It's best to keep them in an airtight container, but if you don't have any, tin cans with lids will suffice. If your container is not airtight, it's best to put a layer of very finely ground husk at the bottom of the container before putting in the seeds. Also, put another layer over the seeds. The husk will protect the seeds from moisture. You can also put in some dried Neem, Camphor, Marigold, or other pest-repelling plant leaves to keep bugs away from your precious heirloom seeds.
Seed saving is an easy hobby to complement sustainable gardening and one of the best insurance you can give your family for food security. Seeds also make great eco friendly gifts for other families who want to get into organic farming too. Always use your collected and saved seeds in your garden the following season to ensure your organically grown food remain adapted to the effects of climate change in your local area as the years go by.
Written by Jan Dizon
About the Author
Jan is a travelling yoga teacher and writer who advocates spiritual growth while leading a conscious, earth-centered lifestyle, as close to nature as possible. She currently lives on an island in the Philippines surrounded by tropical jungles and white sand beaches. She and her partner conduct sound meditations and journeys while advocating sustainable and organic gardening practices.