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One of the biggest reasons why people move to the country and start raising their own food is so that they can be more self-sufficient. Why then, do they often spend year after year pouring over seed catalogs?
I admit, the first few years of homesteading we did the same. Looking at seed catalogs and picking out our next year’s garden was like choosing our holiday gifts from the Sears catalog. Those of you who are my age or older will remember doing that.
Choosing your seeds from a catalog or picking them up at the feed store is just fine but you can also choose to save your seeds from previous harvests or even share seeds with other local homesteaders, gardeners, and enthusiasts in seed swaps. This not only saves you money, but it also allows you to select for the hardiest, juiciest, best fruiting plants in your garden to plant in subsequent years.
Heirloom seeds are on the rise again in the US, thanks to the internet and a renewed interest among enthusiasts and preservationists. This makes it easier to acquire unique, tasty, and vigorous stock you might not otherwise be able to get your hands on. Until we were able to grow heirloom tomatoes, my husband was certain that he’d never met a tomato that he could eat, the same went for strawberries and several other softer fleshed fruits and vegetables.
“Until we were able to grow heirloom tomatoes, my husband was certain that he’d never met a tomato that he could eat…”
The best time to save seeds is different from fruit to fruit. Whichever fruit or vegetable it is that you are thinking of saving, you will need to look up the variety and research how to save the seeds. Some need to be fermented a bit, some need cold storage, some need to be dried. Each is different. Make sure to follow the directions and mark on your calendar or program on your phone when the optimal time for planting or transferring the seed will be so that you don’t forget about it.
There are many great resources for seed planting but one of our favorites is seedsavers.org. Not only can you find a lot of information about saving seeds there, but they also have a huge repository of seeds in their seed bank. Several varieties are available for sale but if you become a member by donating to the organization, you can acquire their seed catalog and it is MASSIVE! They not only list all the seeds that you have access to in their bank but also the other members who have seeds to trade.
Start small. If you’ve never saved seeds before, choose just one plant to save seeds from this year, preferably something you eat a lot of, and save the seeds this upcoming year. Then try saving seeds from a few more the following year. More after that and so on. Until you no longer need to rely on seed catalogs for most of your crop.
Have you ever saved seeds? If so, what did you save and how did it turn out? If not, what would you most like to save next year?