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Saving seeds

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán: https://www.pexels.com/photo/four-brown-wooden-spoons-screenshot-971080/

Saving Seeds

  1. Choose the Right Seeds: Look for the healthiest and tastiest plants in your garden. These are the ones you want to save seeds from. Let’s say you have a really yummy tomato plant with great fruits – those are the ones to focus on.
  2. Let Them Mature: When the fruits or vegetables on your chosen plants are fully ripe, it means the seeds inside them are ready too. For example, if you’re saving tomato seeds, wait until the tomatoes are bright red and juicy.
  3. Extract the Seeds: Cut open the ripe fruits carefully and scoop out the seeds. For tomatoes, it’s like taking the seeds out of the slimy part in the middle. Put the seeds in a small container. If you’re saving pumpkin seeds, you can scoop them out from the middle of the pumpkin.
  4. Clean and Dry: Some seeds might have bits of pulp or fruit on them. To clean them, put the seeds in a fine mesh strainer and rinse them under water. Then, spread the seeds out on a plate or paper towel to dry. Make sure they’re not touching each other – this helps them dry faster.

Storing seeds using traditional methods and in a permaculture homestead involves a mix of age-old techniques and modern understanding. Let’s explore some of these methods in detail:

Traditional Seed Saving Methods:

**1. Ash Method: Ash is used to keep insects away from stored seeds. Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Get clean, dry ashes from wood that doesn’t have chemicals or treated materials.
  • Step 2: Put a layer of ashes at the bottom of a container.
  • Step 3: Place a cloth or paper bag filled with seeds on top of the ash layer.
  • Step 4: Add more ashes around and on top of the bag to create a protective barrier.
  • Step 5: Close the container with a tight-fitting lid to keep out pests.

**2. Cool, Dry Storage: This is a classic method that involves using cool, dry environments to prevent seed damage:

  • Step 1: Make sure seeds are completely dry before storage.
  • Step 2: Use glass jars, envelopes, or small cloth bags to store the seeds.
  • Step 3: Place desiccant packets (drying agents) in the storage container to absorb moisture.
  • Step 4: Store the containers in a cool, dark, and dry place, away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations.

Permaculture Homestead Seed Saving Methods:

**1. Fermentation: This method is commonly used for saving seeds of tomatoes, peppers, and melons:

  • Step 1: Scoop out the seeds along with the pulp and place them in a jar with some water.
  • Step 2: Let the jar sit in a warm place for a few days, stirring occasionally. This fermentation process helps to remove the gel-like coating around the seeds.
  • Step 3: Rinse the seeds thoroughly, strain them, and dry them before storage.

**2. Screen Drying: Used for seeds from dry pods or flower heads like beans, peas, and herbs:

  • Step 1: Collect the dried pods or flower heads when they’re almost ready to burst open.
  • Step 2: Gently rub or crush the pods to release the seeds onto a fine mesh screen or paper.
  • Step 3: Let the seeds and debris sit in a dry, well-ventilated area. Shake or stir them occasionally to ensure even drying.
  • Step 4: Once completely dry, separate the seeds from the debris and store them.

**3. Cone Method: Perfect for larger seeds like corn or beans that are still in their husks:

  • Step 1: Cut the whole plant or stalk with the seeds when they’re almost dry but still slightly green.
  • Step 2: Tie the stalks together in bunches and hang them upside down in a dry, airy place.
  • Step 3: As the stalks dry, the seeds will continue to mature and dry naturally in their husks.
  • Step 4: Once fully dry, you can thresh the seeds by rubbing them against a surface to remove them from the husks.

Heirloom Seeds and Permaculture

Permaculture places a strong emphasis on preserving biodiversity and using sustainable methods. Many permaculture homesteads prioritize using heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated varieties that have been passed down through generations. They’re valued for their unique qualities and their ability to adapt to specific environments.

By saving and using heirloom seeds, permaculture homesteads contribute to maintaining diverse plant varieties, reducing dependence on commercial seed sources, and promoting self-sufficiency. The methods mentioned earlier fit well with permaculture principles, as they often involve using natural, low-tech approaches that align with sustainable practices.

Whether you’re using age-old methods or modern permaculture techniques, seed saving is a vital skill for preserving plant diversity, promoting sustainability, and ensuring a healthy supply of seeds for future planting seasons.

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