Garden column: Selecting your seeds

Garden column: Selecting your seeds

Seed options(Photo: Submitted)

Your garden starts with seeds. Some are direct sown in the spring after the soil has warmed and some may be started in your home, under lights or in a greenhouse or poly house or even purchased from someone else who started them.

Wherever they are started, the seeds must first have been harvested. Fall is a time when many of our garden seeds have ripened and are ready to be harvested and saved. But of course there are cautions about doing that if you wish to have a successful crop the next growing season. Here are some suggestions.

Select the plant you want to replicate. It should be healthy, vigorous and NOT a hybrid. Don’t pamper the plant you have chosen – the goal is to have seeds that produce well without a lot of special care.

As harvest time approaches, study how the seeds are to be spread. Most will do better if they are fully ripe when harvested. If the plant is one which shatters the ripe seeds to spread them, you may want to cover them with a brown paper bag closed around the stem in order to catch the seeds.

Keep the seeds dry. Moisture will often cause the seeds to rot. You can place them near a light bulb for a few days. Better yet is to put them in a jar with silica gel for a short time.

Plan for storage which will prevent the seeds from becoming warm enough to start to grow. Your seeds are living but need to be kept “on hold” until planting time arrives. Storage in something like baby food or peanut butter jars with the lids on tight is recommended. They can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant.

You may question why you would want to save seeds. There are several reasons. With the decline of the number of people involved in agriculture and the control of large seed companies, much of our diversity is being lost. The hybridizers are modifying even the commonest seeds and some varieties are being lost altogether. If you have an interest in furthering biodiversity, there are some organizations which can help you without you personally saving seeds.

The best known is likely Seed Savers Exchange which is located in Decorah, Iowa. They provide an annual catalog of seeds for sale. Another source is Southern Exposure Seed Exchange from Mineral, Virginia. But we also have a seed exchange in Ohio. It has not been in existence very long so has a smaller inventory. Originally called the Southeast Ohio Seed Savers, it is now call CFI (Community Food Initiatives) from Athens, Ohio. You can learn more about it at www.communityfoodinitiatives.org.

Most of the seeds from such organizations are heirlooms or have derived from open-pollinated plants that our ancestors began their gardens with years ago. These plants would have cross-pollinated over the years so today’s seeds will be different in taste, vigor or perhaps in appearance. Worth a try!                              

Submitted by Pat Smith, Licking County Master Gardener Volunteer

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Source : http://www.newarkadvocate.com/story/news/local/2017/10/17/garden-column-selecting-your-seeds/772020001/

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