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