Monday, 3 March 2014

Seed saving

In our garden we always leave some plants to go to seed - now's the time of year when much of our seed is ready for collection. Once the seed heads and stalks have dried right out the seed is ready to collect.
There are plenty of reasons for saving your own seed. Firstly it's a good way in which to keep growing those varieties of plants that you know grow well in your own local conditions. You are getting seed from plants you have successfully grown, and in the process becoming more locally resilient.

Secondly, saving your own seed also saves money.  If you start off buying heritage seeds and then save your own seed from the plants you grow, you end up only buying seeds once.  That's much cheaper than buying seedlings from a nursery.

Thirdly, it's nice to be able to give away or swap seeds with other gardeners. If you join a permaculture or gardening group you'll find plenty of people to swap seeds with.  Being part of a local group is a fantastic way of finding out what else grows well in your area. It's also a great way to discover new varieties and get the chance to try things that perhaps you hadn't thought of growing.  You'll also be able to learn heaps from the amazing amount of knowledge that the members in these groups have.

Here's some of the seeds we've saved recently:

Continental parsley - this plant produces a bumper seed crop

Continental parsley seeds from just one bush!

Celery - these seeds are tiny.

Celery seeds


Cos lettuce

Cos lettuce seeds amongst the seed cases


Silverbeet seeds

Florence Fennel - You can see how dry the seed head and stalk needs to be before the seeds can be harvested.

Silver wattle 

Silver wattle seed pods

There's lots of information available about how to save and store seeds from particular plants.  If you're interested in finding out more information about saving seeds, here are some books we've found useful:
Seed Savers Handbook - One of our favourite resources. Michel and Jude Fanton's book contains detailed descriptions of seed collecting, propagation and kitchen uses of more than 100 vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. 

Links to help find a seed saver group near you:
Permaculture Victoria - many local groups actively save and exchange seed

Other links of interest about saving seed:
Save our Seeds - Organic Gardener article

Saving seed is easy and has many benefits - why not give it a go?

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