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the Seed You Save

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by digitS', Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Mar 15, 2019
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    Some of you have considerably more knowledge and experience with saving seed. Some of you have considerably more of an understanding of the nature of seed.

    The science is somewhat daunting. Just some of the simple stuff: the seed consists of both the endosperm and the embryo. The embryo is a tiny plant. The endosperm serves as food for the plant. Yes, there are plants already in that packet of seeds! There are also nutrients to sustain them during the first days of their growth.

    I appreciate seed companies that provide some information on their germination tests. I'm not sure that any commit to packaging seed that is less than a year old. We can rest assured that seed can be stored dormant for several years. No question that some viability is lost over time, however.

    My seed saving techniques must be just about the simplest possible. A primary concern is that the seed is dry and, for that, I gain assistance from a dry, late-season environment. Anyway, I'm comfortable with 2, 3, 4 year-old tomato seed, for example. Older than that, the seedlings may be delayed and have too much competition from their fresher cousins growing nearby. Their slower emergence puts them at a disadvantage in competing for light and moisture. All that, unless I give them special treatment.

    Fresh seed makes a difference. I'm wondering if it makes a difference both with the embryo and the endosperm food the tiny plant requires. We are told that carbohydrates change over time with sugars becoming more complex starches. I wonder if that process continues and also puts the older embryos at a disadvantage.

    At any rate, the eggplant seedlings that I saved in 2018 are yards ahead of the purchased eggplant seed. Now, I'm beginning to see that with the tomatoes. If you don't save seed, maybe you should!

    Steve
     
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  2. Mar 15, 2019
    Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Garden Master

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    I'm all in favor of saving seeds when it is practical for you to do so for many different reasons. The cost of the seeds, cost of shipping if they are shipped, you have varieties you want, you have an idea how that specific strain of that variety grows for you, it's fun, and I think it's a practical skill to have. It doesn't have to be that hard.

    Viability doesn't just mean if it germinates but how it grows. It's not just how or how long the seed is stored that affects that. The parent stock, the nutrients it is grown in, growing season (temperatures, moisture, maybe even sunlight), maturity at harvest, who knows what else affects it. In some ways it is kind of remarkable how well most seed does.

    Forgetting about joint ownership, each seed company is run by different people. They grow their seeds (or get them) in different soils. Those were grown by different people probably using somewhat different techniques, possibly harvested at different stages of maturity. They may use different methods to separate, dry, store, and package the seeds. Some are treated against certain diseases or parasites. Although they may be the same variety, the parent stock can be different. Some use more organic methods than others. While I suspect most major seed companies use pretty similar techniques there can be some differences in the final product.

    Some seed companies print on the package what year the seeds were packaged for, some may not. Have you noticed some seed companies having sales toward the end of the year when they may be clearing out inventory? For the vast majority of seeds I have no problems using older seeds if they have been stored properly.

    I think this may be germane to your topic. This spring (you might call it winter) I planted 93 bean seeds from beans I saved in 2017, so they were 1-1/2 years old. Of these 93 seeds, 93 germinated. Not all germinated at exactly the same time. Four were so late I started to replant them, but when I carefully scraped away dirt I saw that they were sprouting so I left them alone. All those are now growing but I plan to watch them to see if they are any less robust or productive at the end of the day. Yes, we know how plans go.
     
  3. Mar 15, 2019
    Rhodie Ranch

    Rhodie Ranch Garden Addicted

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    ^^^ cool. Keep us informed if you have a way to track them.
     
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  4. Mar 15, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    i try to keep seeds from the things we grow the most of, but i have gotten out of the habit of just randomly saving seeds from every plant i come across because it ended up that nobody really wanted them so i ended up mixing them all up and throwing them around the bare spots and seeing what came up and survived.

    aside from beans and peas i try to keep the squash, onions and some of the other plants seeds refreshed from time to time. garlic of course, but those are cloves/scapes.

    my experiences so far with seed saving is that most of what i do save seems to hold up ok. i refresh some seed stocks each year so eventually i get most of what i commonly grow redone. and then some i just select at random to plant because they need it even if i don't grow a lot of them anyways.

    mostly though i try to develop new things and so that means planting a lot of experimental beans and hoping something comes of it. it is fun. i wish i had acres and acres and minions, oh and room to store things and spread out when sorting so i can not have to put things away to take out other things all the time.
     
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  5. Mar 16, 2019
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    We could all use more minions, LOL.
     
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  6. Mar 16, 2019
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    It's a toss of the dice with old seeds. I bought one package of cheap generic cherry tomato seeds and they really haven't done well. The beefsteak and slicing tomato seeds that I started were all older than the cherry tomato seeds and have done much better, looking much healthier. Today I bought 2 packages of Burpee hybred super sweet cherry tomatoes (or whatever they are called--packages are in the kitchen, I am upstairs right now), and I will be replanting some of the pots tomorrow. I started the original group of cherry tomatoes nearly one month ago and they OUGHT to be 3-4 inches tall by now, but they are hardly growing, and all are in 4 inch pots with room for more soil on a heat mat and under a grow light with timer, 14 hrs/day. I keep the tray wet and each one has a ziplock bag cover.
    The bigger sized tomato seeds that I started 2 weeks ago ARE 2 inches tall and looking fine.
    Glad I started early. It is almost time to start sweet corn inside!
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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