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Can I save the seeds from this year's harvest to plant next year?

 
Karen Briggs
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We were wondering if we could keep the seeds from this year's harvest to use for next year's garden. I mentioned to my husband that I don't think they will work because the seeds are not heirloom and because of some other reason that I don't know of.

Is it worth saving the seeds? If so, how do I go about it?

 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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I will just post my experience, and I am sure others who are better with "words", and have more knowledge will help you out as well. I am still online, so thought I would post my experience/thoughts.

Here is the thing.. Heirloom really just means it is from an "old seed with history" (which is important), and you will get "exactly" what you ate... Well, if you treat it right.. lol So, yes, a person does want to keep/save heirloom seeds. You can save the seeds you have, however if it is not Heirloom and or Non-hybrid, you MIGHT not get exactly what you ate.

Hybrids are usually a combination of two "types" of the same family of plants (i.e. tomatoes) which produce a specific "fruit/veggie", where as non-hybrid/ heirloom are not. Well, in truth, what we now call heirloom/ non-hybrid were probably once considered a hybrid. I think the criteria is like 40-50 years of producing the same exact fruit for it to be considered non-hybrid.. I'm not sure on that, so research hybrid and non-hybrid..

Can you save the seeds and see what you get?? Yes! I have seen several times when people will eat half a tomato( from the big chain grocery store, probably NOT non-hybrid/heirloom), throw it in good soil, and it will grow on its on and produce tomatoes. Just depends on what you want, and the reasons you want it. What have you lost if you plant a few seeds in a pot/spot from something you have eaten?? Personally, the organic/non-organic properties are more important to me. I would like to save good, organic, heirloom/non-hybrid seeds, but I have much to learn.

I'm new here, even though I'm an old, so just take my tidbits of information as you will. I was still online and saw your post, so thought I would comment. Lots of great ppl here who will help you!!
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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The key word is 'open pollinated' rather than 'heirloom'... some growers are producing new OP varieties... they are not all old... Here is a list of seed suppliers I use.
If you plant you seeds from a hybrid seedling you will get the same species. How close the offspring are to the parent depends on how narrowly bred the hybrids parents were, and whether it cross pollinated with another variety. Some species have a lot of variability left, and go feral fast. Others are well bred or are already close to wild. A good reference and learning tool is Seed to Seed by Susanne Ashworth. I couldn't tell you off the top what hybrids are most likely to produce a desirable offspring -- maybe someone else knows off the top of their head...
 
Me Wagner
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Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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@ Paul Even though this was not MY post, I TY for the information.

Among a gazillion other things, I struggle with the the process of OP/Heirloom/Hybrid "processes. I will add these to my links and try to learn more. For the moment I am hell bent on learning more about PC and Hugleculter ( did I spell that correctly?)... Anyways, TY
 
Marc Troyka
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Paul Cereghino wrote:I couldn't tell you off the top what hybrids are most likely to produce a desirable offspring -- maybe someone else knows off the top of their head...


Most suppliers of hybrids keep their lineage a secret, so it's a really hit and miss thing. One thing is for sure though, if you plant hybrid seeds you'll definitely get something interesting in your garden. There are a few hybrids that are seedless/sterile that you can't cross or replant at all, mainly grapes, watermelon and bananas, although not all hybrids of those are seedless.
 
Leila Rich
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Open-pollinated is the term that really, really matters to me. Things like 'heritage' and 'heirloom' are often just marketing terms, and they often don't mean much in my opinion.
For example, 'green zebra' tomatoes are often advertised as heritage/heirloom etc, when they were bred by Tom Wagner, tomato and potato breeder extraordinaire in 1983.
They are open-pollinated, beautiful and delicious though


*off-topic plant geek alert!*
Some plant species cross extremely readily within species, and some not at all, or very little.
This is where geeking out on Latin plant classifications really helps For example the cucurbitaceae family includes many genera like melons, cucumbers and squash, which are divided into species.
Different genera and species don't cross with each other, but within species it's usually all on!
So if I can plan to grow one each of the three main squash species without risk of them crossing, but if I plant more than one pepo species, I'll probably have some odd plants next season..
I've never seen tomatoes and lettuce cross, but chillies, squash and cabbagy things are a whole nother story...
 
Patrick Whitefield
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Location: Britain
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If the seeds are hybrid it says so on the packet, if it doesn't mention it they're open pollinated. At least that's true here in the UK where I live.

Cross-pollination is more of a problem. If your plants are pollinated by another plant of the same species but a different variety what you get will be different from the parent plant. In fact it probably won't be as good, such is the nature of genetics. If your garden is reasonably isolated, say 50 metres from another one where there are flowering vegetables of the same species, and you only grow one variety of each species, then you don't need to worry about it.

The legume family are a good place to start. Peas and French beans hardly cross at all, so you can keep the seed even if you grow more than one variety of each and/or your neighbours grow them. Runner and broad/fava beans do cross pollinate, so you have to grow just one variety of each and be isolated.

The squashes are also easy. The crossing situation is a bit more complicated, as has already been mentioned in this thread, but if you just grow one you should be OK. Butternut squash is a species on its own, so you can keep seed from that even if there are other squashes flowering nearby.

You can also break the rules. I've kept seed from Crown Prince squash, which is a hybrid, and got similar plants in the next generation which performed very well.

Have fun!
 
Russ White
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Location: north eastern us
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First let me say I love to buy seeds. Seeds of different things I never heard of before. Some of the things are new veggies that become standards in the garden others just don't meet the taste test.
One day I was talking to a man I know who also grows a garden about a recent seed purchase. He said to me I never buy seeds. Seems he grows his beans by buying bags at the store of dry beans. He saves seeds from any vegetable he buys at store or grew in his garden. I still buy seeds for main crop but love to experiment with saved seeds. Seems when others find out they will save seeds for you. Watch out though it can become addictive. It also lead me to getting cuttings, and learning to propagate from cuttings. All great fun and cheap way to expand number of plantings. I know to get the best one should use open pollinator, however who can tell when one will get that next great variety perhaps by chance.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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sure does depend on what you planted, but by all means give it a try, just remember to not count on some types of plants to come true, esp curcurbits..squashes, melons, cucumbers,etc..but most beans will be ok, some corn, most of your coles will revert to a more ancient cole but will be edible..etc..
 
Nicole Castle
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Location: Madison, AL
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From personal experience, I can tell you some crosses will not produce plants that produce fruit. Last year by Black Beauty zucchinis crossed with a wild curcurbit or something from a distant garden, and I got a lovely vining(!) squash plant that never produced a single bloom.

I second the recommendation for Ashworth's "Seed to Seed." It's essential for learning to save seed.

Regarding the discussion on hybrid, sometimes it's labelled "F1" instead. That means the same thing as hybrid.
 
Marianne Cicala
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Lots of work has been done by many big seed companies to produce seeds that will give you a plant, who's seeds are sterile. Heirlooms are not messed with in that manner. I had a conversation with some folks at burpee about their organic seeds and if they could assure me the plants would NOT produce sterile seeds - they would not guarantee me that. The only assurance of furtile seeds was with the heirlooms. Another vote for seed exchanges/ seed to seed.
 
Allan Babb
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Location: Greater New Orleans, LA, USA
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Nicole Castle wrote:Regarding the discussion on hybrid, sometimes it's labelled "F1" instead. That means the same thing as hybrid.


Just about every fruit or veggie we eat is a hybrid(same for most of the farm raised animals). F1 hybrids are the unstable hybrids, they're more or less first generation of two different plants, and the traits may or may not pass to the next generation, even if two F1 hybrids of the same kind pollinate each other(or themselves as the case may be). So F1 is always a hybrid, but a hybrid is not always an F1.

As has been said above, unless you want to experiment, you need Open Pollinated cultivars for seed saving. There can be restrictions to this such as spacing between cultivars of the same plant and some of those spacings can be 100 feet or more.

Nicole Castle wrote:I second the recommendation for Ashworth's "Seed to Seed." It's essential for learning to save seed.


I third it!
 
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