Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seed Saving and the Tiny Garden

There are many reasons to save seeds.  Genetic preservation seems to be the most common theme one sees when researching this subject.  A good reason, but not the one that motivates me.  I try to save seed for a few reasons.  The main one is the variety is scarce commercially, my purple podded Pretty peas and Freezonian peas are examples.  Economy is a factor that has been influencing me as well.  With the cost of everything rising and postage for most seed companies at ridiculous rates, my seed orders have decreased dramatically in the last few years.  The best reason to save seed, in my not so humble opinion, is that after a few seasons you can develop strain that is uniquely adapted to your conditions and micro climates.  After all, you are only going to save seeds from your most vigorous, healthy and productive plants.  A strain that is adapted to your unique growing conditions is very easy to develop.

Now to the dilemma.  When you have a tiny garden space and want to to save seeds of certain crops, you are taking ways space from future harvests. Spring crops are the worst offenders.  I leave my peas in the garden until early July to ripen the seeds.  This backs up the next crop by a month.  I don't save lettuce seed for this reason either.  Small garden devoted to seed saving would seem to be the solution, but then I'd have to worry about cross pollination etc.  Also I have enough garden beds already.  This mountain is a rocky one!  Every bed must be hand dug and an area of 3' x 3' feet yields at least a pickle bucket of rocks the size of a quarter or larger.  Mulling over this dilemma this passed week and also thinking about my last post the bells went off in my head...CONTAINERS!!!

I can plant a container each of Ruby, Lingue de Canarino, Galactic lettuces and when they start to bud distribute them to out of the way spots and then harvest the seed.  No taking up garden space, proper isolation distances and I can select for late bolting.  I can do the same with my English peas and also select for heat resistance.  As an added bonus I can plant a pot of Pretty and Freezonian combined to see if I can get a cross of the two the try and sweeten up Pretty.  This strategy would also work for flowers.

I'll be updating my spring plans this weekend to add containers for seed saving and tweak the PSP.

Let me know what you think and why you save seeds.


  1. Great idea, Ed! It would also make many plants easier to protect from cross pollination if that is ones desire. Much easier to cover or isolate a pot than it is to isolate a plant that's smack dab in the middle of a row or bed of plants.

  2. Granny, I know, as I was planning I was thinking of how tired I was of getting things planted a month late. The Halloween snow was my wake up call. Since my pole beans were planted July 1, I got almost zero seed to save. I'm also tired of hunting dwon favorites that are available from one or two sources. Now to revamp my plans...

  3. What a great idea! I think I may plant some peas into some containers for just that purpose.