Recycling Seeds

Multinational seed ownership has had a disastrous effect on the availability of hardy, native species. True, the convenience of a dry, uniform packet of seeds may be persuasive, but you can make good use of your resources by saving, with very little effort, the seeds of many garden plants; and others can be left to self-seed right where they grow.

Any drawbacks and difficulties in saving your own seed are greatly outweighed by potential benefits, not merely economic ones. As a general rule, a plant that sets seed has proved to you it can survive in your garden and is therefore worth saving. Pick out the biggest and the healthiest, and you are on the way to developing a strain that is uniquely adapted to the precise conditions of your garden. Remember, however, that your seeds must be stored in a dry and cool place.

Collecting Seed
To collect seeds successfully you need to catch them when they’re fully ripe but before they’ve been released. You may have to enclose a seed-head in a paper bag secured with an elastic band during the final ripening stage, to prevent the seeds scattering. Once collected, seeds can either be sown right away or stored somewhere dry and cool (but not below freezing) in labeled paper bags (plastic will suffocate them). Some seeds remain viable after years of storage, but others germinate best when sown immediately.

Saving Vegetable Seed
Reasons for saving vegetable seed obviously include economy, but the most important reason is the frequent difficulty of obtaining some old-fashioned varieties.
Such varieties are especially good subjects for homegrown seed, because this is how they would originally have been handled.

When planning to raise vegetable seeds, you need at least two plants of exactly the same variety in bloom at the same time. Crossing different varieties will produce hybrids, which may (and probably will) be disastrous. Another problem is that many brassicas, e.g. broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohl-rabi, are all derived from the same wild ancestor, and they are able to interbreed just as other “varieties” can. You’ll also need to allow the very best of your crop plants to “run to seed,” in order to get the best-bred seed next year. But set against that is the advantage of being able to select the best plants to breed from, and over many generations you will obtain a strain which is best adapted to your garden‚a privilege surely worth striving for.

Excerpted from the The Natural Garden Book, by Peter Harper.Copyright (c) 1994, Gaia Books Limited. Reprinted by permsision of Trafalgar Books.
Excerpted from The Natural Garden Book, by Peter Harper.


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago


J.L. A.
JL A6 years ago

good to know

Nancy B.
Nancy B6 years ago


Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

Thanks for the info. I find that seed you've collected yourself germinates far more reliably than shop bought seed.

Linda Jarsky
Linda Jarsky6 years ago

The LOVE of MONEY is the basis for all evil.....think about it corporations and governments before you pass the invisible line of it being too late to change...."

K s Goh
KS Goh8 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Eva Orta
Eva O8 years ago

Thank you very much for this informative article! I am planning on growing more plants coming spring (I have started with some herbal varieties indoors already) and this article will come in very handy!

Hilda Perrett
Hilda Perrett9 years ago

this is a most useful article I already save my seed and grow it next year it is well worth it

GreenseasKat C.
kathryn cook9 years ago

thanks for this post