START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

A Guide to Saving Seeds

  • 1 of 2
A Guide to Saving Seeds

by Jordan Laio, Networx

Before the era of seed catalogues and garden centers, seed saving was a cornerstone of farming in general and of home gardening in particular. What exactly is seed saving? It is simply letting some of your plants go to seed and then saving those seeds in order to plant next year’s crop.

Seed Saving Today

Today, seed saving is mostly practiced as a tool of empowerment for home gardeners. Like home canning, knitting, and other back-to-the-land type skills, it is a step away from complete dependence on supermarkets and department stores. It also keeps alive some endangered varieties of plants. Some would even argue that home seed saving is one of the last lines of defense in terms of food safety. Should the international network of food transportation break down because of either terrorist acts or natural calamity, it will be those with seeds who will at least be able to grow their own food afterward.

But aside from the practicality of saving seeds from your garden, it is also a more intimate way to connect with your food. Thoreau wrote, “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” When you save seed, you are increasing the sense of wonder in your garden.

Managing a Garden for Seed Saving

There are multiple ways to manage your garden to get the most out of seed saving. For some crops, like butternut squash, seed saving is as simple as harvesting a ripe specimen and saving the seeds instead of roasting and eating them. For other crops, like lettuce, you have to let the plant continue to grow past its most delicious stage in order to produce seed. For lettuce, this means letting the plant “bolt,” i.e. grow a few feet tall all of sudden and then produce flowers, and then seeds. Therefore, you could simply choose one lettuce plant to be your “seed saver” plant.

Some people choose to plant a separate “seed saving garden” where all the plants will be allowed to grow to full maturity and ripeness. This is especially useful if you are saving seeds from a very specific plant variety, like an heirloom variety that you don’t want cross-pollinated with another variety. In that case you would make sure that the specific variety is far enough away from other varieties in order not to cross-pollinate. Some even hand-pollinate to ensure purity. However, this is probably not practical for the average home gardener. You’ll do fine to just let a few of your plants go to seed, and then process the seeds.

  • 1 of 2

Read more: Conservation, Eco-friendly tips, Green, Lawns & Gardens, Nature, ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Selections from Networx empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.


+ add your own
6:58PM PST on Feb 26, 2013

thanks, definately going to try this

2:48AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

Thank you

12:49AM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

thank you

8:12AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Interesting, didn't know about tomato seeds having to be fermented. Thanks

12:06AM PDT on Jul 12, 2011


1:36AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

thanks a lot!

10:25AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

and then I can share the seeds when I learn how to save them. Or trade seeds !

10:23AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

Thanks. Going to buy heirloom seeds (NO Montsanto monsters for me) and then try to grow in this desert dirt.

9:31PM PST on Feb 21, 2011

saved. shared.

7:04AM PST on Jan 17, 2011


add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thanks for the tips, in the article and in the comments. With the world getting as crowded as it is…

Both are exquisite!

Sensible stuff... and well said Emily J regarding dogs!

Thank you for sharing this very interesting article. Be all blessed as all your loved ones. Animal…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!