Tag Archives: The Garden Seed Saving Guide

Winter is Perfect Time to Save Seed

pumkinssmBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With winter in full swing, the last thing you might be thinking about is gardening. But the two actually go together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream! In fact, if you grew your own pumpkins or squash this year, the holidays are the perfect time for saving seed! Read on….

Winter Sown Seedlings

2012 8-29 Seedlings (4)_thumb[7]By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Many gardeners know the benefits of planting crops, such as garlic, in the early fall and winter months, but did you know that many common herb, flower and vegetable seeds can be treated this way, too? Winter sowing is the age-old practice of planting seeds directly in the garden sometime between late fall and mid-winter. Because they are living organisms, seeds have the ability to sense the environment around them, which allows them to determine when weather conditions are just right for germination. As a result, winter sown seeds often germinate earlier, have higher rates of germination and have less problems with seedling diseases such as damping off. They also tend to grow faster and stronger than their indoor-sown counterparts, which allows gardeners to get a jump on the growing season.  Read more!

Winter Seed Saving: Pumpkins and Squash

Butternut Squash with seeds. Copyright Jill Henderson

Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

With the holidays in full swing, the last thing people might be thinking of is gardening.  But trust me, the two go together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream!  In fact, if you grew your own pumpkins or squash this year and plan on using the sweet flesh to make delectable holiday pies, breads or savory dishes, now is the perfect time to save seed!

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Seed Saving Time: Watermelon

Saving watermelon seeds. Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill HendersonShow Me Oz
Whether you like it seeded, juiced, sliced, cubed, or just straight off the rind, there’s almost nothing better on a hot summer day than a big ‘ol chunk of juicy-crisp, sweet-ripe, just-from-the-garden watermelon. M-mmm.  Of course, if you grew that melon in your own garden, the level of satisfaction rises even higher.  But if you really want to reach gardening nirvana, try harvesting a watermelon that you not only grew, but grew from seed you saved yourself.  And the best part? Saving your own watermelon seed is soooo dang easy!

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Squash and Cucumbers: All Flowers and No Fruit?

Winter squash flowering, but no fruit - yet! Copyright Jill HendersonJill Henderson Show Me Oz
It happens every year. The weather warms up, the rain comes at the right time, and the squash, cucumber and melon vines have finally taken off. At last, the small baby plants you’ve coddled all spring are literally sprawling all over the place and flowering for weeks now. Yet, not one single fruit is in sight. For years I went through the same thing – worrying and wondering what the heck I’d done wrong. Eventually, the fruit would come and I’d forget all about it.  But, it wasn’t until I started saving seed that I actually found the answer as to why I had all those flowers and no fruit.

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Seed Saving Time: Radishes

Description Raphanus sativus, Wild Radish. Date August 03, 2002 Location Glen Canyon Park - San Francisco, California Photographer Franco Folini CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=722804Jill HendersonShow Me Oz – I don’t know about you, but our spring garden is never complete without at least a few rows of crisp, spicy radishes.  We love to put them in salads, on sandwiches and, of course, for snacking on while we weed!  Common radishes are super easy to grow, have few pests and diseases and can really tolerate the cold, wet weather of the early spring months.  Radishes are also among the easiest seeds to save, provided you follow a few simple rules.  As a bonus, by saving your own radish seeds you get to enjoy an entirely new round of tasty edibles in the form of the young green seedpods, which are a taste treat in their own right.  So don’t pull all your radishes just yet…

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Seed Saving Time: Flowers and Pollination

2014 7-1 Straight Eight Cucumbers (2)Show Me Oz – No matter where you live in the country, you are either itching to get your hands in the dirt or are already in the garden digging, planting and dreaming! If you want to save seed this year, you have come to the right place! Because today we are talking about flowers and how they achieve pollination – and what those two things have to do with saving pure quality seed. Understanding these things not only helps you reap a larger harvest of fruits and vegetables to eat, but also ensures that the seeds you harvest from those fruits will come true in next year’s garden. So, let’s get right to it!

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Seeds of Significance – OP Seed Sources

Saving-Cherokee-Pony-Peas_thumb.jpgJill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Today is one of those cold blustery winter days that give me a good reason not to go outside.  Instead, I’m cuddled up near the  wood stove  dreaming about seeds – wonderful, open-pollinated seeds devoid of genetic modification and over-hybridization.  My seed dreams consist entirely of varieties that are either tried-and-true open-pollinated heirlooms or rare and unusual varieties of open-pollinated fruits and vegetables.  Thankfully, those kinds of seeds don’t have to live only in my dreams because thousands of varieties of unique open-pollinated seeds are readily available to the home gardener – if you know where to look. Continue reading

Seed Saving Time: Testing Germination Rates

 Testing seed quality and germination rates. showmeoz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

Last week, I received my first spring seed catalog.  And while it’s a bit early for me to even think about ordering seed for next year, it is an early reminder to test some of the seed stock I currently have on hand. Checking the quality of the seed you save is just as important as saving it. After all, there’s nothing more disappointing than spending hours planting seeds that either germinates slowly, patchy, unevenly, or (gasp) not at all.  So, whether you save your own seed or lean heavily towards “accumulating” seed, you should be testing at least a portion of your stash every winter. Continue reading

Grow Pure Seed with Blossom Bags

IMG_4007by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Seed savers know that the key to obtaining pure seed is by controlling the pollination process.  Each species is made up of many varieties.  If two – or more! – of those varieties get too close to one another during flowering their seeds will not come true.  Of course, not all gardeners have the room to grow multiple varieties spaced far apart.  Sometimes, we just don’t know that we’d like to save a certain variety of seed in early spring and so we don’t pay any attention to the spacing requirements for purity.  If this sounds like you; have no fear!  Blossom bags are here to save the day!

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GMO’s Threaten Seed Savers

Seed really matters!by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

There’s a wonderful feeling that comes over me when the garden I have planned and tended and nurtured finally begins to pay off.   Of course, I’m pleased with the success of producing food for my family, and I’m excited about the nutritious fruits and veggies that will grace my table for the entire year to come, but the best feeling of all is knowing what is (and isn’t) in or on the food we eat.  In years past that statement would have been all about chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  But these days, the threat of food crops infected with Genetically Modified Organisms is a major concern.   That’s why learning how to save seed is so crucial for organic gardeners and farmers.

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Seed Saving Time: What’s in a Name?

The heart of every fruit is its seed.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If you garden, I’ll bet you’ve talked to your plants before.  Don’t worry, I do it, too. It’s perfectly normal. Common even. People talk to all kinds of animate and sometimes inanimate things – they also give them names.  Take trees and fast cars, for example.  It doesn’t matter if anyone knows you talk to your plants or not, we’ll keep that our little secret.  But if you are a gardener trying to save pure seed, you’ll want to take those pet names and give them some botanical teeth!

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Seed Saving Time: Legumes

Snow peas will cross with snow, snap and shell peas.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz 

If you’re planning on saving some of your own seeds this summer, the very best time to start is before a single seed goes in the ground.  In fact, your seed saving efforts should begin with that catalog you’ve been perusing all winter.  In addition to a myriad of valuable information such as germination times, growth characteristics, suggested planting dates and so on, many seed catalogs now list each vegetable’s Latin botanical name, as well.  You know the one I’m talking about…those two  little words written in italics and perched between parenthesis can mean the difference between seed saving success or seed saving failure.

Why Save Seed? Patents in the Garden

Are your seeds patented?by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Another issue related to GMO’s is the patenting of life forms by the grain giants and the pharmaceutical industry. Make no mistake – the money to be made on the ownership of genetic patents is staggering. That’s why the big agriculture, chemical and pharma-giants like Cargill, Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont are racing to patent plant genes – and not just the GMO’s they create, but all plants with any value – like the vegetable crops that you and I grow in our gardens.

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Why Save Seed? GMO’s and Your Garden

Don't let your garden become contaminated with GMO vegetables and fruits.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Last week we discussed some of the more obvious reasons for saving your own seed: to be more self-sufficient and save money, to adapt varieties to the local environment, and to increase genetic diversity in food crops.  But, of course, I can’t talk about saving seeds without discussing Genetically Modified Organisms, (GMO’s) otherwise known as Franken-food.

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Why Save Seed? Selection & Genetic Diversity

Saving lettuce seed couldn't get any easier. Image copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress.comby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I have been saving seed for almost 20 years.  What started out as a simple way to save a buck, quickly became a passion with very deep roots.  After all these years, it is exciting to see so many people interested in saving their own garden seed.  In fact, saving seed has become quite popular. But there are those who still think it’s just a fad – another hashtag in a world of buzzwords. And perhaps seed saving is just another trend in a long line of trends – like bacon everything, backyard chickens, and kale, but for those of us who have worked towards seed sovereignty and food freedom for years, an American seed saving fetish is just what this country needs!

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Winter Sowing: Get a Jump on Spring

2012 8-29 Seedlings (4)_thumb[7]By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Many gardeners know the benefits of planting crops, such as garlic, in the early fall and winter months, but did you know that many common herb, flower and vegetable seeds can be treated this way, too? Winter sowing is the age-old practice of planting seeds directly in the garden sometime between late fall and mid-winter. Because they are living organisms, seeds have the ability to sense the environment around them, which allows them to determine when weather conditions are just right for germination. As a result, winter sown seeds often germinate earlier, have higher rates of germination and have less problems with seedling diseases such as damping off. They also tend to grow faster and stronger than their indoor-sown counterparts, which allows gardeners to get a jump on the growing season.

Seed Saving Time: Drying and Storing Your Home Grown Seeds

Paper packets work great for storing most types of seed.by Jill Henderson Show Me Oz

Seeds are living, breathing, life forms capable of remaining dormant for long periods of time, germinating only when environmental conditions are just right for the growth of the plant they will soon become.  But even the best kept seeds don’t last forever.  If you save your own flower, vegetable or herb seeds, you can help increase their lifespan by following just a few simple steps.  In this week’s Show Me Oz, we’ll talk about the right way to dry and store your seeds and how long you can expect them to live.

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Saving Seeds: Open Pollinated vs. Hybrid

Share the Seed (12)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Ever wonder what the difference is between open pollinated, hybrid, heirloom, and GMO seeds, and which one is right for you? Well, in today’s post I hope to shed a little light on the situation, but first, you might want to send the kids out of the room for this studious look at how seeds are born and why you should care what happens in your garden when you’re not looking.

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Seed Saving Time: Spinach

Garden spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Image via Wikimedia Commons.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Spinach is one of the very earliest crops planted and harvested from the garden in spring.  As a member of the Amaranth family (formerly classified as the Chenopodia family), spinach is naturally packed with fiber, protein, and high levels of essential vitamins and minerals.  If you’ve never grown your own spinach or had freshly prepared spinach, you are in for a real treat!  And if you already love spinach and grow it in your garden every year, then why not try saving your own seed?  You’ll not only be rewarded with oodles of eating pleasure, but you’ll save a ton of money, too!

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Winter Seed Saving: Pumpkins and Squash

pumkinssmBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With winter in full swing, the last thing you might be thinking about is gardening. But the two actually go together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream! In fact, if you grew your own pumpkins or squash this year, the holidays are the perfect time for saving seed!
Continue reading

The Bell Pepper Sex Scandal

Bell Pepper Sex Hoax imageBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –

Have you seen this image floating around the internet claiming that one can determine the sex of a bell pepper by the number of bumps on the bottom?  Whoever posted the original image* claimed that those peppers that had four lobes were “female”, while those with only three lobes were “male”.   They expounded on their theory by explaining that “…female peppers are full of seeds, but sweeter and better for eating raw and the males are better for cooking.”  Is this true or just a mammoth hoax to burn away your precious time trying to find out?

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Saving Seed Begins in Spring!

Cherokee Pony Peas Image copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

If you are one of the millions of gardeners who want to try their hand at saving their own garden seeds this year, spring is the perfect time to begin.  And the best way to have a successful seed harvest is by selecting the right plants, spacing them properly and maintaining control of the pollination process.  For the beginning seed saver this is sometimes a bit confusing, which is why I’ve put together a tidy list of the easiest seeds to save and exactly how to save them in your garden starting right now!

GMO’s: A Modern Disaster

Image Via: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/10/11813/california-gmo-labeling-supporters-confront-41-million-opposition-and-13-point-poBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

There’s a lot of talk these days about being prepared for all kinds of natural and man-made disasters.  It is not uncommon to find classes, lectures, videos and books that teach eager “preppers” how to be wholly self-sufficient should our modern-day systems fail.  After all, life without electricity and modern modes of transportation would change everything about the way we live.  But whether or not you believe that some type of large-scale disaster will occur sometime in the future, there is a man-made disaster of epic proportions occurring right now.

Got Seeds? Get Local!

Jacob's Cattle beansBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Ah, winter. At last it’s time to kick back in your big easy chair with your garden-weary feet all wrapped up in those new fuzzy slippers you got for Christmas. I can just see you now, gazing contentedly at the flickering flames of a glowing fire in the hearth, more than content with a summer’s worth of jobs well done and not a single garden chore on your “to do” list… Yeah, right. I mean, you’re a gardener, aren’t you? When did gardener’s ever get a day off? I mean, seriously – spring will be here before you know it and you don’t have a single moment to waste lying around gazing at fires if you want to have an incredible garden next year! Gosh.

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Avoid GMO’s – Save Your Own Seed

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

George Washington once said, “Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved.”   Of course, he was speaking of buying seed from someone who didn’t know how to save and store it properly and hence, an entire season of growing had been wasted waiting for a good crop that never came.   Back then (and for thousands of years before the founding of our country) anyone who farmed or grew their own food understood a thing or two about what good seed was.  Continue reading

Gorgeous Green Tomatoes

GreenTomatoes smBy Jill Henderson

Fall is in full swing and November is just around the bend.  Time to say goodbye to the fresh bounty of the summer garden and tuck everything in for the winter to come.   After the particularly tough growing season we just had, you won’t want to waste a single edible thing from the garden – and that includes green tomatoes!  With a little creativity, those crispy green orbs can be turned into an amazing array of sumptuous edibles.

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Seed Saving Time: Tomatoes

Ripe tomato

Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

If you’re like most people in the Midwest, your garden got a slow start this year. With the colder than usual temperatures and excessive moisture this spring, many gardeners were late in getting their seeds in the ground. If you were among those who didn’t give up entirely this year, you’re probably just getting around to processing the bounty of your labor. And while you’ve probably got a ton of things to do, don’t forget to save some seed.

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Garden Time: Do You Know Where Your Seeds Come From?

Copyright Jill Henderson By Jill Henderson

Ah, winter.  At last it’s time to kick back in your big easy chair with your garden-weary feet all wrapped up in those new fuzzy slippers you got for Christmas.  I can just see you now, gazing contentedly at the flickering flames of a glowing fire in the hearth, more than content with a summer’s worth of jobs well done and not a single garden chore on your “to do” list…  Yeah, right.  I mean, you’re a gardener, aren’t you?  When did gardener’s ever get a day off?  I mean, seriously – spring will be here before you know it and you don’t have a single moment to waste lying around gazing at fires if you want to have an incredible garden next year!  Gosh.

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