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This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum. Completing this BB is part of getting the straw badge in Gardening.

Seed saving is a huge part of permaculture! By saving your own seed, you are creating more adapted plants to your specific area, usually resulting in more vigorous and healthy plants! You also don't have to keep buying new seed every year.

Seed is generally saved from the strongest growing plants and ones with certain traits that you want the offspring to have.

Glass jars by Ross Catrow, on Flickr

To get certified for this BB, you will need to save seed from 4 different species.

This thread has some good basic information on saving seed from common vegetable varieties.

Saving seeds (Basic information)

It's important to clean the seeds and store them in a cool and dry place. This thread discusses it in greater detail.

Storing seeds

This thread has a good list of additional reading material on seed saving and plant breeding.

Saving Seeds, Breeding Plants, Landrace Gardening - reading list

How to Certify That Your BB is Completed

 - A picture of each of your four species with seeds before being harvested (such as seed pods or sliced open with seeds showing) and some seeds removed
 - A picture of each of your four species in its labeled container
 - A brief description on how you are storing the seeds (in jars, seed packets, etc.)
COMMENTS:
 
Posts: 137
Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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(1) Poppy
Not sure what kind of poppies these are. My daughter found them growing in a mountain clearing on Vancouver Island. The flowers were purple or red, and I assume are garden escapees. She thought there were two types, which makes sense since some seeds are black, others gray-blue. She also felt that some of the pods were probably not mature at the time of collection.
I dried them for another two months on the kitchen counter. Some were already releasing seed through the little holes in the pod when she gave them to me and continued to drop seeds into the tray so they were empty when I broke them open this week, so those were definitely mature pods. Others had to be broken open to get the seeds, like the one in the photo, and I am not certain that those were fully mature. They do seem black and ripe, apart from not having been released from the pod, so I will dry them another day or two on the counter outside of the pod and then pop them into an envelope. Plant them all in spring and see what happens.


(2) Giant sequoia
We gathered these last winter, and they sat in a bin on my counter for the past 10 months to fully dry as I had read that would cause them to release the seeds. It worked for most of them and I coaxed the few seeds that were stuck in tighter spots in the cones out using a knife blade. Rather than storing these until next spring, I am going to wet-stratify them in a paper towel in a ziplock bag in the fridge for the next month. The paper towel is wetter than I intended, so I will leave the bag open for a few days to evaporate a bit of that water. You can’t see it in the photo, but I have written a note to myself in sharpie on the bag – stratified Oct 4, check Nov 4. I read that it should be a minimum 4 week cold stratification. Then check and plant any that are sprouting, and put the rest back to continue stratifying. I am planning a trip back to where we got the seeds to scrape up some soil and get the right micro-organisms for these guys when they are planted.


(3) Garry oak
These are from my yard. We seem to be having a real mast year for acorns, so I gathered a big bag (had to compete with Steller jays for the ones in the trees – they can have the ones too high for me to reach – and the goats zoomed in and grabbed any that I dropped on the ground).  
Apparently Garry oak acorns do not require stratification, but have some chemical that suppresses germination until sufficient rainfall has occurred to wash it off. Sorry, I don’t know what it is, but I read that somewhere. So I have been alternately soaking (for a day or two) and then draining these (leaving them out of water for a day or so and then putting them back in fresh water) and after about 4 changes of water I started to see signs of germination. I have about a dozen already planted in pots and you can see the little sprouts from some of those I haven’t planted yet.


(4) Hardy succulents
I have a ‘deck railing’ planting of succulents that have gone through a couple of winters here, sort of like a window box type of arrangement, and since many of them went to seed this year I decided to save seed for planting next spring. I don’t have a complete ‘before’ photo as I harvested the seed over a month ago, but took a photo showing a few of the late bloomers. I snipped off the flower stems with seeds, let them dry on the kitchen counter for a month, and stripped the seed off the stems last week. I am just going to leave it in the pods over winter as it all seems very dry, and the seeds are like tiny grains of dust. They can spend the winter in envelopes and I will break up the pods at the time of planting.




(5) Lemon balm
Lemon balm grows throughout the vegetable garden here and reliably self-seeds each year, but we are looking for land to transition from hobby-farming to making a living from farming. So we may need to re-establish lemon balm in a new location next year if all goes to plan. I collected the brown lemon balm stalks last month and dried them in the kitchen. I picked off the flower/seed heads which were quite dry and crunchy and crumbled them up. Then we winnowed the seeds using human lung power – the seeds are very tiny and we were afraid the electric fan and even a hairdryer would be too windy. They are still not 100% clean, but it did reduce the volume so they fit into one small envelope. I bought a box of 500 of these little ‘coin envelopes’ from Amazon, by the way, and find they are a good solution for seed saving for smaller seeds. Folding origami envelopes would be another way to do this – perhaps a more elegant solution for special gifts from the garden?



(6, etc.) English walnut, buartnut, hazelnut
Since we are planning to plant many nut trees at the new place (once we find it), we decided to start by collecting seed at a heritage nut farm located in Kelowna, BC. The Gellatly Nut Farm was a project of the Gellatly brothers starting in the early 1900s. They sourced nut species worldwide and turned their family farm into an important breeding site for northern-hardy nut varieties for North America and elsewhere. The last remnant of the farm, a 10 acre nut tree test site, was almost swallowed up by development but the local community rallied to save it and it is now a regional park. Volunteers maintain the nut orchard and sell seedlings and nuts to help support the property. My daughter and her friend went there two weekends ago to pick nuts and came home with a large bin full, that we hope will give us some good starting genetic diversity. One of the volunteers also took them into the heritage buildings which was great since the original nut-drying shed and equipment are still in use and are about the scale and level of technology we would envision using. But I am digressing from seed saving.
We held back some nuts for cooking, but the majority of what they brought back is now being cold-stratified for planting next spring. I layered the nuts in a metal garbage can in layers of peat moss and hay, wrapping them in a sort of cylinder of hay to provide a bit of cold-weather protection in case we get any deep freezes this winter. This is placed in the unheated shipping container that I use for feed and hay storage. I can easily peek in at them during the winter to make sure they are not getting moldy, and will pot them up in the spring. Sharp-eyed viewers will also note that there are chestnuts in the collecting buckets at the nut farm, but we kept those for cooking as I have an order of 400 grafted chestnuts coming in the spring.




Poppy-seeds-from-one-pod.jpg
Poppy seeds from one pod
Poppy seeds from one pod
 
Andrea Locke
Posts: 137
Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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Sorry I seem to have posted without attaching all the photos...hopefully get the rest of them in here....
ready-to-harvest-seeds.jpg
ready to harvest seeds
ready to harvest seeds
Acorn-seeds.jpg
Acorn seeds
Acorn seeds
succulent-seeds.jpg
succulent seeds
succulent seeds
More-seed-saving.jpg
More seed saving
More seed saving
Succulent-plants-on-balcony.jpg
Succulent plants on balcony
Succulent plants on balcony
Ripe-for-the-picking.jpg
Ripe for the picking
Ripe for the picking
nuts-from-gellatly.jpg
nuts from gellatly
nuts from gellatly
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I hereby certify this BB complete!

 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I save all sorts of seeds, generally annuals.  Here are sugar snap peas, love lies bleeding amarath, eggplant and Minnesota midget cantaloupe.

Once they're dry I store them generally in glass jars in a dark drawer in the basement.
Sugar-snap-peas-in-the-pod.jpg
Sugar snap peas in the pod
Sugar snap peas in the pod
sugar-snap-peas-in-jars.jpg
sugar snap peas in jars
sugar snap peas in jars
amaranth.jpg
amaranth
amaranth
amaranth-in-storage.jpg
amaranth in storage
amaranth in storage
eggplant.jpg
eggplant
eggplant
eggplant-seeds-drying-(more-in-the-second-image-down-from-this-one).jpg
eggplant seeds drying (more in the second image down from this one)
eggplant seeds drying (more in the second image down from this one)
cantaloupe.jpg
cantaloupe
cantaloupe
cantaloupe-seeds-at-upper-leftish-and-lower-middle.jpg
cantaloupe seeds at upper leftish and lower middle
cantaloupe seeds at upper leftish and lower middle
Staff note (Steve Thorn) :

I certify this BB is complete!

 
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
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I've been seed saving all season, and for once I actually tool pictures as I went along! (somewhat....)

I got pictures of my green leaf lettuce: I planted some butts from grocery store lettuce three years ago. These babies pop up all over my yard every year beginning in Feb. I cull all the weakly looking ones and transplant the healthy ones in the garden bed. I haven't actually needed to save seeds since I let them bolt every year and scatter, but I decided to do it this year to share with anyone who wanted some.

I've got pictures from my green onions: similar story, they were from grocery store "trash" parts. They've travelled about 10 ft in the 4 years since I first planted them, and come back strong every spring. Saved some seeds this year as a backup; had a scare with some little critters eating my plants and they munched three of my green onions!

Clemson spinless okra: new to me this year, I bought one plant to save the seeds so I can plant more for next year. Got two pods off my plant, remembered to grab pictures before I cleared all the seeds out of the last pod.

Shishito peppers: oh boy, this guy is my gardening nemesis! I've been trying to grow one for three years now and every year the seedlings and sprouts have died on me. This year I finally managed to grow one and get not only flowers but peppers! I've saved a bunch of the seeds 'cause those suckers are more expensive than I like to shell out (honestly, most seeds are. I like free seeds)

For my seed collecting:
I let the plant bolt, or let the fruit ripen until it starts to dry on the plant. I cut off or collect the seed pods, fruit, etc and put them in a white washtub. Seeds that are dry get extracted and placed into their container (usually baby food jars or old washed-out med bottles). Seeds from fruit and veggies get cleaned and laid out to try on a papertowel for a few days. I use the "snap" test to make sure they're sufficiently dried for storage, then into the jar they go. All jars get labelled with name and year. Jars are stored in the bottom back of my pantry in a cardboard box.  

I have a picture of all the seeds I've saved this year: veggies, herbs, and a couple ornamentals. I'll tell you what's not fun: getting seeds from basil and catnip!! those pods are so stinking tiny and the seeds FLY out when you open them.....I got a little white washtub just for doing my seed collecting/cleaning.

I realized after uploading all my other photos that I forgot a closeup of the okra in it's jar: it is in the jar collection lineup, second from the left!
Green-leaf-lettuce-seeds.jpg
Green leaf lettuce seeds
Green leaf lettuce seeds
Green-leaf-lettuce-seeds.jpg
Green leaf lettuce seeds
Green leaf lettuce seeds
Green-leaf-lettuce-stored.jpg
Green leaf lettuce stored
Green leaf lettuce stored
Green-onion-bulb.jpg
Green onion bulb
Green onion bulb
Green-onion-seeds.jpg
Green onion seeds
Green onion seeds
Green-onion-seeds-ready-for-storage.jpg
Green onion seeds ready for storage
Green onion seeds ready for storage
Green-onion-seeds-in-a-jar.jpg
Green onion seeds in a jar
Green onion seeds in a jar
Okra-pod.jpg
Okra pod
Okra pod
Okra-pod-popped-open-for-harvest.jpg
Okra pod popped open for harvest
Okra pod popped open for harvest
Shishitos-growing.jpg
Shishitos growing
Shishitos growing
Shishito-open-for-seeds.jpg
Shishito open for seeds
Shishito open for seeds
Shishito-open-for-collecting.jpg
Shishito open for collecting
Shishito open for collecting
Shishito-in-storage.jpg
Shishito in storage
Shishito in storage
Collection-of-seeds-for-storage.jpg
Collection of seeds for storage
Collection of seeds for storage
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I certify this BB complete! Along with your spiffy new gardening air badge

 
Mike Haasl
master steward
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Carolyne, for those little pods, one possible way (untried by me and likely to fail miserably) is to pulse them in a blender for a bit.  That's how I get brassica seeds out of their pods.
 
Carolyne Castner
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
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Mike Haasl wrote:Carolyne, for those little pods, one possible way (untried by me and likely to fail miserably) is to pulse them in a blender for a bit.  That's how I get brassica seeds out of their pods.



That’s a good idea! My husband has a little mini coffee grinder that might do the trick. I’ll have to give it a go and see how it works; the seeds are small enough that I think they’d fall under the blades once the pods were cut open
 
gardener
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BB for certification

I typically store the seeds in jars, or sometimes reused ziplocks.
DBAF1D03-42A3-47F2-AA6B-F73FF38CE554.jpeg
Black medic
Black medic
Black-medic-for-storage.jpeg
Black medic for storage
Black medic for storage
Black-medic-for-storage.jpeg
Black medic for storage
Black medic for storage
D02B1A6D-F688-4DF6-A49B-F5049DA7B61F.jpeg
Lupin
Lupin
Lupin-seeds-in-a-jar.jpeg
Lupin seeds in a jar
Lupin seeds in a jar
Lupin-seeds-labeled.jpeg
Lupin seeds labeled
Lupin seeds labeled
59EBA699-8B9B-43C1-A0F1-AB4AAD942910.jpeg
Pennycress
Pennycress
Penny-cress-seeds-in-a-jar.jpeg
Penny cress seeds in a jar
Penny cress seeds in a jar
3AD55AF4-27C5-4EA3-ABFF-44902A261475.jpeg
Chives
Chives
Chive-seeds-on-lid.jpeg
Chive seeds on lid
Chive seeds on lid
Chives-in-a-jar-with-label.jpeg
Chives in a jar with label
Chives in a jar with label
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I certify this BB complete along with you new Air Badge in Gardening!

 
gardener
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I harvested these seeds in preparation for making seed bombs.  So I'm not storing them at all.  However I do typically store seeds in envelopes or jars, then those envelopes are in airtight containers, then those containers are put into metal boxes in a cool, dry corner of the basement. But I did label them for you:



Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I'll certify this BB complete but I don't think that's a dandelion...

 
Rob Lineberger
gardener
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I'll certify this BB complete but I don't think that's a dandelion...



Oh, that makes so much more sense!  Do you have a suspicion of what it is?  If it's not dandelions then I might not be able to use it in the seed bombs.

ETA:  From what I can tell it looks like thistle.  And given the state of the plant it's hard for me to identify whether it is a good or bad thistle.  So I'll remove it from the seed ball candidates and plant a few in pouts to see what it is.  Tall thistle is beneficial for pollinators.  Monk thistle is a noxious weed.
 
Mike Haasl
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Beats me but it does look thistley.  How about if you save seeds from one more plant (that you can identify) just to make your BB submission perfecter?
 
Rob Lineberger
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Mike Haasl wrote:Beats me but it does look thistley.  How about if you save seeds from one more plant (that you can identify) just to make your BB submission perfecter?



Happy to do that.   In the meantime I have identified the plant as tall thistle.  Its endangered because people in the Midwest confuse it for Monk thistle and destroy it.  Tall thistle is particularly beneficial to pollinators  so i did include it in the seed bombs.  Thanks for pointing that out!
 
Mike Haasl
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Sweet!  Ok, then if you could edit your submission to correctly label it as tall thistle, we should have a good precedent for those who come behind us
 
pollinator
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The photo of the "raw" seeds on the table doesn't show the names written on the paper the camera didn't pick them up at all :( the first photo was taken when the plants were picked, as you can see by the nice fresh chickweed in the coriander!
But from left to right The bushy twigs are coriander "calypso" these are actually self sown volunteers
hiding under the coriander on the paper are nasturtium,
sharing their piece of paper are poppy seed heads "Mauve shades"
above them are tomatoes "Victorian Dwarf" I've been saving these for 4 years now
and the cucumbers right up the top are "cornichon de paris" (sp) I don't think they are F1. it will be interesting to see if they come true
the bottom sheet of paper contains clockwise from top left;
Pot marigold
A blue/purple mallow, I found it growing in a ditch a few years ago and grabbed some seeds the bumble bees love it.
Field poppy
Lovage I'm not sure why I think I will need 300 lovage plants next year.. but hey lets do it!

I'm not submitting the peas or the angelica they just happen to be in the photo.

The second photo is where my seeds live. it's an airtight box so they are all sealed in paper and then into that.

If needed I have photos of the plants as well except the coriander where the whole plant is in the first photo.
DSC_0328.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC_0328.JPG]
DSC_0348.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC_0348.JPG]
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I hereby certify this BB complete along with your new air badge!

 
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