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The Seed of a question or a question of seeds!

Posts: 3
Location: Watford (On the NW edge of London) England
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I was working away on my allotment today putting some potatoes in and looking at what else I was going to plant this year.
I have a bag of assorted seeds that I was going to germinate and then plant out rather than buy plants. So cold and wet so far and I need to get the plants in so will have to buy them.
Annoying but the local Council have a 75% in cultivation rule and sent me a letter saying get it sorted in 4 weeks! or lose the plot!

Now I grant you some say I lost the plot years ago! However, looking at my seeds and some spring onions that had gone to seed I had a sudden thought..
I see lots about growing your own food. Excellent.
I see lots of prepper/homestead stuff about off-grid living etc. Very good.

However, no one seems to explain about how you can grow food from your OWN seeds! After all in a SHTF scenario there will be no seed store to buy from.
So exactly how do you do it! I actually do not know. Does anyone else?
Posts: 3047
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Well, lots of people save seed from year to year, or (if they are preppers but not gardeners) buy new seeds to store on a rotating annual basis.

In a SHTF scenario, existing gardeners will presumably become suddenly very assiduous about saving seed even if they had not done so before.

If you are not a gardener when the SHTF, you will have to trade for seeds, or find sproutable seeds among whatever groceries you have on hand, or trade for seeds from people who have them. Some crops that grow wild or naturalized (like various members of the onion family) can maybe be hunted out by the hungry person and saved for propagation instead of being eaten.

This is one of the reasons why gardening on a small scale is a prudent thing to do even if you don't otherwise spend a lot of time worrying about the zombie apocalypse (my catch-all term for all SHTF scenarios likely and unlikely). Even if you just have a few stale seed packets in your sock drawer and a few things growing, you'll be *way* ahead of the person who has no seeds of any kind.
Laurie St.Lyon
Posts: 3
Location: Watford (On the NW edge of London) England
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Hi Dan,

I grant you that saving seeds is a short term solutions but I was more concerned about how you actually save seeds from your own plants. How do you harvest them?
Take my onions. I like big round onions and get through quite a lot in a year. I use them in stews, curries, pasta, gravy ( I make a good onion gravy) etc.
But I buy sets to plant and grow. I have never harvested seeds. What will I do when there are no sets to buy?
I also figured that if I have 30 onions and keep two that I allow to run to seed I must get more than thirty seeds I can plant and have ready for next year but, what are the mechanics of seed harvesting , how do I know they are ready? Then there are other plants that produce seeds. Pod veges (peas beans, etc) it is pretty clear. But other plants its no so clear.

Hence my question. Also I am a great believer in not wasting money so if I can buy on onion then keep on reproducing ad infinitem that is money well spent.
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Laurie.
Seed saving is a big topic!
Luckily it's one of those things where you can start simply with something that doesn't cross-pollinate, like lettuce,
and move on to fiddlier things like brassica (the cabbage family)
There's an enormous amount of info online- here's a good resource:
If you want in-depth info, I highly recommend Suzanne Ashworth's book 'seed to seed'
Posts: 1444
Location: Fennville MI
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Yep, big topic. Some things you can propagate from seed, some you can use tubers or rhizomes or bulbs. Some may do both.

It can be really easy and obvious - for example, last year I let several of my radishes just go ahead and live out their little plant lives. They grew amazingly large greenery, flowered and set seeds in cute little pods. I let the plants die off, cut them off at the ground and hung them to dry for some time, until I got around to picking the pods and shelling the seeds from them. I had started with one store bought packet of seeds, I collected at least twice what had been in the packet. I planted those seeds this spring and they are doing great.

Squash would be another pretty darn easy one, or melons. Let the fruit ripen on the vine. When you eat it, wash off the seeds and set them aside to dry. Easy to locate, easy to identify, etc.

Onion is a bit more of an issue. They will flower and set seed, but you have to be willing (like with the radishes) to forego harvesting some of your onions and let them go to seed.

Again, last year I had lettuce that bolted. I let it go ahead and set seed and just spread it around the bed, in hopes of getting some this year. Jury still out on that

But, really, while it is a potentially complex and involved process, and some plants (cucurbits!) are notorious for cross-breeding all over the place, it is also just as simple as can be.

Experiment a bit and see what you get And as you said, you can save money, but you can also get a landrace variety of plant that is well suited for your specific conditions.
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