Why save seeds from your garden? Why save seeds? Which one of the hundreds of reasons should I share with you…..hmm. Because seed saving is self sufficient living is one of the best answers a homesteader can give to another homesteader. Because it is traditional, because you save money instead of buying new seed every single year. Because it ensures your seeds stay in your generations, because it ensures you do not get genetically modified seeds (GMO). I can go on and one but the best answer is still…because it is how you are supposed to do it. Pioneers did not have a seed store they could just run off too every spring and buy more seeds. They living sustainable, that means do not use up all your resources irresponsibly, but instead, cultivate more seed by allowing one plant of each crop you plant go to see and harvest those seeds. Next year, plant those seeds and let the cycle continue.
At Dogwood Hollow we have been saving our seeds and replanting them for 6 years now. In this post I wanted to share with you a few pictures of some recent seed harvests we have done and talk a bit about why and how to save your own seed. Did you know that if you save your own seed you will have an abundance of seed that can be traded and given away too? One plant will provide you an large amount of seed, usually. If you buy seed packets you spend like $2.00 on a good pack of organic seeds and there is about a teaspoon of seed in there. Check out this Mustard Green plant I let go to seed.
Mustard green gone to seed
At the homestead, we save seeds from all that we plant. We always save the seeds from the strongest looking plant we save one plant. If for some reason all our crops of one kind go to seed, we simple pull the plants when the seeds are all the way formed (eye ball it) and hang them to dry. Then we will have an abundance of that seed to trade or give away and to plant next year. This actually happened this year with our Bok Choy plants and Japanese Daikon plants. We saved one Daikon radish plant and it is still in the ground. But pulled all the Bok Choy plants and hung them once they were ready. Here are the Bok Choy seed plants hanging to dry.
Bok Choy gone to seed
Did you know that you can not save seed from plants that are not heirloom and expect to replant those seeds next year? I am referring to hybrids. Heirloom seeds are those seeds that have never been altered in any way since their beginning, hundreds of years ago. Hybrids are modern day seed that have been spliced and genetically altered. They have been engineered not to grow if you collect the seeds, or at least, not with any success. This is the modern day monopolization of seed and it is wrong, but the US standards say its fine. This is one reason we grow only heirloom seeds, and we do so organically. Check out my Cherry Belle radish seed plant!
Cherry Belle Radish seed plant
Cherry Belle radishes are the first crop Dogwood Hollow Homestead grows every year, out in the garden. We start seeds about February indoors, but radishes love cold weather and grow best early and late fall. So we left one cherry belle radish and the seed plant made a massive amount of seed pods! This is very exciting, we have never saved radish seed before and feel it will be quite successful. We grow a variety of crops at the homestead, this year is the first time we grew 3 kinds of kale and it was all a great success. We grew Daikon Radish and Bok Choy for the first time too, it was not so successful, but we did get a lot of seed to try again with! Check out this French Breakfast radish seed plant.
French Breakfast radish seed plant
Now Daikon Radish is a great radish that was supposed to be easy to grow and produce well. We were going to make a nice stock of homemade pickles with that, as well as can up soups with that cooked in there. Although we did grow the plants with ease, we apparently grew it too late or it was not able to grow fast enough in the hard MO. soil to beat the late spring heat. All of our plants went to seed, so we allowed one to grow and produce seed and pulled the rest and fed them to the rabbits. Check out our Daikon box gone nuts. This is an early picture, should have seen when those plants were 4 feet tall and going to seed!
Daikon Radish plants
Upon closer reading and research, Bok Choy and Daikon will probably grow better where we are in the fall. So we will take the seed we gather and try again in the fall. If that fails, I will research further and fine a way to make it successful, this is the key to mastering a skill like gardening, never give up. When we do need to buy seed, we always buy organic seed, heirloom seed or direct from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed Company. If you are trying to become more self sufficient, remember, the more you can do for yourself without the use of funds, the closer you are to true self sufficiency!