How to Plan A Seed Saving Garden


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Plan your garden with seed saving in mind. Learn which seeds to choose, which plants to save seed from and how seed saving can benefit you and your garden! #seedstarting #seedsaving #gardenplanning #heirloomseedsSpring is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start planning your garden (if you haven’t started already!) But before you decide what to plant, you might want to consider whether or not you want to save seeds from your garden. If so, you’ll need to plan accordingly.

Seed saving is both a science and an art. While it may seem pretty straightforward, it actually takes a bit of forethought and pre-planning in order to grow a garden that not only produces delicious homegrown produce, but also produces viable seeds for you to harvest and save for replanting in the future.

 

Why Save Seeds?

So, why bother saving seeds in the first place? Why not just buy them from the store? 

For starters, if you’re into homesteading and self-sufficiency, seed saving is like, the ultimate skill to have in your pocket.

Even if you’re a home gardener who doesn’t mind purchasing seeds year after year, if you want to hone your skills and improve your garden at the same time then you should definitely plan your garden with seed saving in mind.

Saving your own seeds not only saves you money, it ensures you always have seeds on hand that you can replant and turn into food, the ultimate goal when it comes to self-reliance! Seed saving also allows you to save your favourite varieties year after year and even improve them over time by carefully selecting only the best seeds from the best plants each year. This also results in seeds that are specially adapted to your garden zone and microclimate. 

Who knows, you may even develop your own heirloom variety that can be handed down for generations to come! 

Related: How to Save Seeds

 

How To Plan A Seed Saving Garden

So what do you need to consider when planning your seed saving garden?

For starters, you’ll want to begin by selecting the right kind of seeds to grow and save.

Then you’ll need to decide how involved you want to be in the seed saving process, which will help you determine which varieties you’ll want to save seeds from.

You’ll need to know what type of pollination the plants you choose will need, and how far their isolation distance is from one another. You might need to know how to hand pollinate different plants if you want to grow two different varieties close to one another.

And you should definitely know how to save seeds from the individual plants you choose. This includes knowing how long it will take for the plant to go to seed and how to know when the seeds are ready to harvest.

It might seem like a lot, but it’s really quite simple once you understand the basic process. So let’s break it down… 

 

Related: How to Read Seed Packets (And Actually Understand Them)

 

Selecting the Right Types Of Seeds

There are several types of seeds, and not all are suitable for seed saving. Here’s a quick break down of each type:

 

1. Open-Pollinated Seeds

* Good for seed saving *

These seeds come from plants grown and pollinated by wind, insects or by hand. This is how plants have been grown and how farmers have saved seeds since the dawn of time and the rise of agriculture, and the result is a huge amount of genetic diversity among plant species. 

Open-pollinated seeds can be saved and replanted the next year and will grow into the same type of plant as the one they came from, so long as they don’t accidentally cross-pollinate with another variety. If you want to be able to save seeds from your garden, definitely look for open-pollinated seeds when planning your garden.

 

2. Hybrid Seeds

* Not good for seed saving *

Hybrids come from two different parent plants that are the same species, but not the same plant (for example, broccolini, which is a cross between broccoli and gai lan (aka. Chinese broccoli).

They are created by deliberately cross-pollinating two different types of plants to create an entirely new type. Some other examples of hybrid plants are sweet corn, meyer lemons (cross between lemons and mandarin oranges), and grapefruit (cross between sweet orange and pomelo). 

If you save seeds from hybrid plants they probably won’t grow true to the plant you saved them from, meaning they’ll look more like one of the hybrid’s parent plants, or perhaps like something completely different, and they tend to taste woody, watery, bitter or just bland, depending on the vegetable type and what it was crossed with. If you grow hybrids you should probably stick to buying new seeds each year so you can be sure of what you’re growing.

 

3. Heirloom Seeds

* Good for seed saving *

Heirloom seeds are a type of open-pollinated seed that have been carefully selected and passed down through generations, hence the name “heirloom”. They’re typically the best of the best as they’re both open-pollinated and they’ve been carefully selected from the strongest, tastiest and highest-yielding plants by generations of gardeners and farmers. 

In order to be considered heirloom seeds, the seeds need to come from open-pollinated plants that are at least 50 years old, but many heirlooms are hundreds and even thousands of years old, and have evolved and adapted to become some of the tastiest, most nutritious and most beautiful and unique plants in any home garden. 

Heirlooms are the all-around best choice for seed saving. Not only will you be able to save seeds from heirloom varieties, you’ll be doing your part to preserve rare and one-of-a-kind seeds that have been carefully selected and passed down throughout history!

 

4. GMO Seeds

* Not good for seed saving *

Genetically modified “GMO” seeds are engineered in a lab and are often not only the result of crossing two different plant types of the same species, but different species altogether! So, for example, you might have a tomato that has been crossed with pig DNA to make its skin tougher so that it lasts longer, or corn that has been genetically engineered to include a bacterial gene that makes it immune to certain herbicides. 

Since GMO seeds bred in a lab, they are patented, making it not only difficult to save the seeds (as they likely won’t produce true to their parent), but actually illegal! While it is highly unlikely that you will come across GMO seeds as a home gardener, it’s still something to be aware of when selecting both your seeds and your food at the grocery store.

Plan your garden with seed saving in mind. Learn which seeds to choose, which plants to save seed from and how seed saving can benefit you and your garden! #seedstarting #seedsaving #gardenplanning #heirloomseeds

Some seeds are as beautiful and unique as their full-grown counterparts, like these scarlet runner beans.

 

Choosing the Best Plant Varieties For Seed Saving

Another thing you’ll want to know is which plant varieties are easiest to save seeds from. In order to know this, you’ll need to know how they are pollinated. 

 

Self-Pollinating Plants

Self-pollinating plants are the easiest plants to save seeds from. As their name suggests, they don’t require cross-pollination, so there’s very little chance that they will cross with another variety of plant and produce hybrid seeds. This, in turn, means they will produce seeds that will grow true to their parent when replanted, and that’s exactly what you want when saving seeds.

Self-pollinating plants also require the least amount of work because you don’t need to worry about pollinating by hand or about covering plants to keep them from cross-pollinating with another variety. So if you’re a beginner or you’re just looking for the easiest plants to save seeds from, you’re gonna want to choose self-pollinating plants.

Self-pollinators include: 

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers

 

Cross-Pollinating Plants

Other plants need cross-pollination in order to produce seeds. These plants either have female and male flowers that need to cross-pollinate, or each plant is either a male or a female and the two need to cross-pollinate with each other in order for the female plant to produce seeds.

While it’s absolutely possible to save seeds from cross-pollinating plants, you do need to take some precautions in order to make sure they don’t cross-pollinate with a different variety of plant. If they do cross-pollinate with a different variety, the seeds might not grow true to the plant you saved them from. We’ll talk about some of those precautions in the next section.

Cross-pollinators include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Beets
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Onions

Plan your garden with seed saving in mind. Learn which seeds to choose, which plants to save seed from and how seed saving can benefit you and your garden! #seedstarting #seedsaving #gardenplanning #heirloomseedsHow to Save Seeds From Cross-Pollinating Plants

In order to effectively save seed from cross-pollinated plants, you’ll need to make sure that each varieties of plants from the same species are kept far enough away from each other that they won’t cross-pollinate with each other. 

Cross-pollinating plants need a minimum amount of space between different varieties of the same species in order to produce seeds that breed true. This amount of space is called the isolation distance

Plant varieties that are pollinated by insects and wind often need up to a mile or more of distance between different varieties in order to ensure they don’t cross-pollinate. That means you shouldn’t grow, say, pumpkins and spaghetti squash beside each other if you want to save seeds that will breed true to one plant or the other. 

I learned this first-hand when I had a volunteer plant pop up in my pumpkin patch last year and realized it was obviously a cross between a pumpkin and a spaghetti squash due to its spaghetti squash-like shape and its pumpkin-like colour. Squashes that cross with different varieties tend to be more watery and less flavourful than their parent plants, which is why you want to be careful when planting two varieties close to each other if you plan on seed saving.

 

Hand Pollinating

You can still save seeds from cross-pollinating plant varieties if you hand pollinate. The process is definitely more involved than just leaving self-pollinating plants to do all the work themselves, but it is a way to ensure you end up with seeds that will breed true to the parent plant.

There are different methods of hand pollinating, including bagging, caging and taping the pollen-producing and pollen-receiving parts of a given plant. This helps to ensure these plants won’t be able to cross-pollinate on their own and you’ll be able to manually pollinate the female flowers by spreading pollen from the male flowers by hand, either by gently rubbing the male and female flowers together, sprinkling pollen onto the female flowers by hand or by using a small brush or a similar tool to transfer pole from the male to the female plants.

Hand pollinating is a bit more of an advanced and involved technique so if you’re just starting to save seeds I recommend starting with self-pollinating varieties. But if you’re up for a challenge, hand pollinating gives you the ability to save true seeds from different varieties of cross-pollinating plants in your garden. Once you get good at hand pollinating, you can even get creative and try creating your very own hybrid cross!

 

How to Save Seeds From Common Garden Vegetables

Finally, you need to know how and when to save seeds from different plants in your garden. Most common garden vegetables are annuals, meaning they produce seeds at the end of their growing season in their first year. But some plants (like broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, onions and celery) are biennials, meaning they won’t produce seeds until their second year.

You should definitely know which are which if you want to save seeds from them so you’ll know when to expect the seeds to be ready. This is especially helpful if you plan on succession planting as you’ll know how long you need to leave a particular plant in the ground before it goes to seed.

You should also familiarize yourself with how to save seeds from different plants since seed saving techniques differ between different plant species. For example, beans and peas are probably the easiest seeds to save. All you need to do is leave the pods on the vine until they completely dry up. Then you crack them open and save the dried up seeds from inside.

Saving tomato seeds can be a bit trickier. They usually require a short fermentation, then need to be rinsed well and dried.

Once you decide what plants you want to save seeds from, you can familiarize yourself with the appropriate seed saving technique(s) for those particular plants.

Plan your garden with seed saving in mind. Learn which seeds to choose, which plants to save seed from and how seed saving can benefit you and your garden! #seedstarting #seedsaving #gardenplanning #heirloomseeds

 

How Does All Of This Affect Your Garden Planning?

When it comes to planning your garden, you’ll need to consider all of the above when deciding

  • which plants, varieties and types of seeds you will grow
  • where to plant certain varieties (and how far apart)
  • whether or not you want to succession plant (and when you’ll be able to)
  • whether or not you will need to pollinate by hand, and if you need to purchase any supplies (like netting or tape) to do so

If you plan on saving seeds from your home garden this year, now is the time to start thinking  about it. In other words, don’t wait until October to decide you want to save seeds from your pumpkins, because by then they may have already crossed with your zucchinis! An ounce of planning is worth hundreds of homework seeds:)

So get your seeds and garden gloves ready because spring is on its way my friend.

Happy garden planning!

 

 

 

P.S. Be sure to download our FREE Seed Starting Cheat Sheet! Take the guesswork out of starting 10 common garden vegetables from seed and start growing your own organic food at home today!


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
What to Stock In A Home Apothecary

What to Stock In A Home Apothecary

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   Having a home apothecary full of medicinal herbs, tinctures and infusions of all kinds is many a homesteader’s dream! In fact, as far as goals and dreams...

read more

What does it really mean to be self-reliant?

What does it really mean to be self-reliant?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it really means to be “self-reliant.”  We talk a lot about self-reliance (or self-sufficiency) in the homesteading community, and outwardly it may seem as if the goal of “achieving” self-reliance is what ultimately...

read more

40 years on this Earth.
11 years together.
8 years married.
6 babies, one living, 4 in heaven and one more hopefully on the way.
20 fur (and feather) babies in our time together.
5 homes (plus a couple tents).
6 countries.
About 5,000 pounds of homegrown tomatoes, among other things;)
Too many good times to count.
Enough hardships to shape our characters.
One beautiful life together.

To my smart, talented, strong, kind, selfless, handsome amazing husband… The day I met you everything changed for the better. Sure, we’ve weathered some storms, but knowing I always have you to turn to has helped me through my darkest hours. The laughs, deep conversations, goals, dreams and unconditional love we share make each day worth living. And the family, home and life we’ve created together are more than I could have ever hoped for.

Happy 40th birthday to my one and only @thehumblehandyman. I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else. ❤️
...

66 8

And then there were 3 😔

Despite fending off an eagle attack the other day, a sneaky raccoon got into the chicken run early this morning and took out one of our girls.

Having animals die is definitely the hardest part of homesteading, but it’s a reality of this lifestyle that everyone must come to terms with sooner or later.

While we care for our chickens and want to give them the best life possible while they’re here, we understand that they’re livestock, not pets, and that we’re not the only creatures who see them as a food source.

Luckily we have a new flock of up-and-comers who will be ready to lay in a few months. Until then, egg production around here is gonna be pretty scarce.
...

19 2

So this is 35…

I decided to read my horoscope today (since it’s my birthday and all). I don’t really buy into the horoscope predictions, but I do think there’s something to be said for the personality traits we’re born with when the stars are aligned just so. Here are a few snippets that I found to be almost eerily on point:

“Tauruses born on May 18 are characterized by love of freedom and independence…They possess extraordinary creative energy, and they are never without an important cause to champion. They enjoy taking risks, but only when they believe the risk really matters.

As a rule, most decided early in life what they wanted to do and are not likely to deviate from that path. Their independent spirit makes them ideally suited to careers where they are their own boss, or are at least autonomous within a larger structure.

May 18 people want to make it on their own. No matter how successful they become, they never forget their roots and may even draw upon them for inspiration.”

Every year on my birthday I reflect on where I’m at, where I’m headed and where I’ve come from, and all I can say is that each year I’m only more grateful to be living life on my own terms, doing what I love most next to the people I love more than anything else in the world.

I’ll never forget where I came from and I’ll never have any regrets, because I wouldn’t be right where I am now without all of the experiences -good, bad or otherwise- that I’ve had along the way.

I knew when I was a little girl that I wanted to be a writer and a content creator. Homesteading came a little later in life, but when I knew, I knew.

I hope to be doing what I love and sharing it with you all for the next 35 years too! (Well, actually, if I’m being honest, I’d like to retire and throw my phone in the river long before that;) But until that day comes, thanks for being here to celebrate life with me today and every day. Cheers to another turn around the sun 🍻
...

58 10

My daughter stayed overnight at her grandma’s last night, and this morning when I talked to my mom she said “Evelyn told me she’s never been to the doctor before.”

Proudly, I replied “no, she hasn’t, because she’s never needed to.” This is thanks in large part to the fact that we keep a well stocked natural medicine cabinet at home and do our best to treat everyday illnesses and ailments ourselves.

Having a well-stocked home apothecary (and the know-how to use herbal and natural medicine at home) is yet another important piece of the self-sufficiency puzzle, and one that we’re working on a lot right now, both in our home and in my membership program, the Society of Self-Reliance.

If herbal medicine and building a home apothecary is on your to-do list as well, I’ve got some great tips and a printable checklist of items you’ll want to start stocking up on now so you’re prepared to make all sorts of medicinal preparations in time for cold and flu season later this year.

This is also a great time to plant certain medicinal herbs so that you’ve got a personal, sustainable supply of herbal medicine at home, because who knows what supply chain issues are gonna hit next!

To help make building and stocking your home apothecary or natural medicine cabinet a little easier, I compiled a list of all the ingredients I like to keep on hand for making my own medicinal preparations, as well as a suggested list of herbs to start growing or stocking up on, and some other great resources to help you get started preparing and using your own herbal medicine at home.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read the full article and download the checklist, or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/stock-a-home-apothecary/
...

34 1

Stinging nettles are one of my favourite things to forage for in early spring. They’re ready to harvest well before just about anything is ready in our garden, and they’re a superfood as well as a medicinal plant packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, C & K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron, plus they’re super high in protein.

As a medicinal plant, nettles are a natural antihistamine and can help with season allergies, they have properties that reduce inflammation and especially joint inflammation and arthritis, they can be used to treat of urinary tract infections and enlarged prostate symptoms, the e been shown to lower blood pressure and control blood sugar and more!

Some people even swear by harvesting stinging nettles with their bare hands as the sting itself is said to help with muscle and joint pain/arthritis!

I, however, am not that brave. I definitely recommend wearing gloves, long sleeves, long pants and boots when harvesting stinging nettles! But the good news is that once you cook or dry the nettles, they no longer sting you. My favourite way to prepare them is to dry them and enjoy them as a herbal tea! But they’re good sautéed in stir fry or added to soups (in place of spinach or Kale) too. Whatever you do, just don’t put them fresh into a salad!

Stinging nettles grow wild all over North America (as well as other places), and spring is the best time to forage for them. To learn how to safely identify them, harvest them and prepare/preserve them, check out the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/harvest-and-use-stinging-nettles/

Have you ever foraged for stinging nettle before?
...

89 14

If you're looking to increase production in your own home garden, you know how important bees and other pollinators are to your overall yield.⁠

Honeybees get a lot of the glory, and for good reason: It's said that honeybees alone are responsible for pollinating 80% of our fruits and vegetables! Not to mention, they make honey... Sweet, glorious, highly nutritious and DELICIOUS honey!⁠

In this day and age of global food shortages, we need to do whatever we can to help increase food production at home and abroad, and helping honeybees is one of the best ways to do just that.⁠

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/3-easy-ways-to-help-save-the-bees/ to learn what you can do at home to help save the bees, and the many, MANY reasons why it matters!⁠
...

25 1

I don't know about you, but around here spring officially marks the beginning of what we call "busy season."⁠

I always remind myself, though, that the payoff from the work we put in at this time of year is so totally worth the extra elbow grease and long hours.⁠

The seeds we sow now will provide us with food and medicine to stock our pantry and apothecary with in the summer and fall.⁠

The projects we start now will (hopefully) be finished and ready to serve us later in the year.⁠

And the deep cleaning and organizing we do now in our homes will set the stage and the tone for the rest of the season.⁠

Personally, I don't operate very well in a disorganized, messy or dirty environment. Whether I'm working or just relaxing, if my home is in disarray I feel like I can't fully concentrate on or enjoy whatever I'm doing.⁠

For most of the year this means sticking to a daily routine of tidying up and light cleaning when necessary. But in the spring, I like to take a few days to deep clean our home so that the rest of the season runs smoother; So that when I'm in the thick of gardening and harvesting and preserving season, I'm not also contending with dirt and stains and pine needles from Christmas!⁠

That being said, I don't like to use any commercially produced chemical cleaners, so I always make sure to keep a few natural ingredients on hand to get the job done.⁠

Over the years I've tried a lot of store-bought "natural" cleaners, and honestly I haven't been impressed with most of them. In fact, I find some white vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, water and a few essential oils are all I really need to clean most of my house!⁠

If the spring cleaning bug has bit you too, be sure to check out my DIY Spring Cleaning Recipes via the link in my bio. Every recipe is made with simple, natural ingredients that you probably have on hand already. I also like to add essential oils to my cleaning products for their scent and natural cleaning and disinfecting power, but you can omit them if you like:)⁠

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/spring-cleaning-recipes/
...

26 0

If there's one thing we should all be doing to hedge against looming food shortages and inflation right now, it's growing some of our own food at home.⁠

I've been preaching the many benefits of homegrown food for years now... Long before any of the madness we're currently experiencing took hold.⁠

A couple years ago when I launched my first gardening course, I mentioned in my sales video that we were just one emergency situation away from grocery store shelves being cleared out entirely. Within two weeks of that video, the pandemic hit, and the rest is history.⁠

The fact is, whether you're worried about shortages, the skyrocketing price of EVERYTHING, or you simply want to eat better, healthier foods free from GMOs and chemical sprays, learning how to grow even a little bit of your own organic food at home puts power and food security back in your hands.⁠

That's exactly why I’ve teamed up with 16+ other speakers for the Backyard Vegetable Gardener's Summit: A free, 3-day online event where you can learn how to get started or get better at growing food and creating your own personal grocery store, right in your own backyard!⁠

Here are just a few of the presentations coming up this week:⁠

🌱 7 Ways To Maximize Space In Your Urban Garden⁠
🌱 Creating a Personal Seed Bank⁠
🌱 How to Generate Income From Your Garden⁠
🌱 Easy Ways to Quickly Improve Your Garden Soil⁠
🌱 Indoor Container Gardening⁠
🌱 Growing Turmeric & Ginger at Home⁠
🌱 How to Use Succession Planting for Higher Yields⁠

And more!⁠

Plus, don't miss my masterclass where I teach you everything you need to know to grow a BUMPER CROP OF TOMATOES in your backyard! 🍅🍅🍅⁠

From starting your seeds to planting out and caring for your tomato plants all season long, I'll show you the exact method we use to grow hundreds of pounds of tomatoes at home for fresh eating and preserving each year.⁠

The summit officially starts TODAY! If you haven't registered yet, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/bvgs to save your seat and start watching and learning right away!
...

83 3

“When I think of self-reliance, I think of any ability to rely less on ‘the system.’”

I sat down with Ashley Constance from @dirtypawshomestead and the @alittleselfreliant podcast to talk about what it means to be self-reliant, if it’s even possible to be 100% self-reliant and why it’s a goal worth striving for even if complete and total self-reliance isn’t possible.

Be sure to check out the full interview in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

Subscribe @ modernhomesteadingnmagazine.com

I’d love to know, what are you currently doing to become a little (more) self-reliant? Let me know in the comments!👇
...

27 2
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins
There has been a problem with your Instagram Feed.

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]