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Seedsaving Webinar 3.2.15

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  • Seedsaving Webinar 3.2.15

    At 1900 today 3.2.15 there will be a webinar about seedsaving. It is free.

  • #2
    A few snippets from the webinar on how to grow better seeds:

    Apparently bigger is better. Bigger plants that give bigger seeds will grow better, germinate more vigorously and will give better results overall.

    Prepare the soil well and use twice as much organic fertiliser than you think you need. Plants grown to seed flower and phosphorus is very important to flowering - bonemeal was recommended. Side-dress and liquid fertilise/foliar feed to help the growing plants, especially heavy feeders and seed plants. Grow them as big, strong and healthy as possible to ward off pests. Buy seeds of the same variety from more than one source, there are differences. Buy the big packets and oversow. Sow way too many and cull, cull, cull at every stage of the development for seed plants. This selection for best plants is crucially important. Observe minimum numbers and exceed if possible to keep populations healthy, observe minimum spacing and then double that if possible for bigger plants. Wider spacing means better air flow and less disease. Once plants are growing, make sure that there is sufficient water as underwatering is common. But don't wet the plants by overhead watering for health reasons, drip irrigation is preferable.

    Some crops are easy to save seeds from, like self-pollinating tomatoes, lettuce, peas and beans, Others are outcrossers and need isolation to avoid crossing. There is isolation by distance (if you live far from other growers), by barriers of various sorts and isolation by time. For example if all the farmers around you grow their sweetcorn to tassle at a certain time, you could sow a month earlier or later to avoid getting their pollen. This advice only works if the growing season is long. You can cage two varieties of the same outcrossing species and take the barrier off every other day in turn - alternate day pollination. Bees only pollinate one variety at a time. The next day that variety is caged again and another variety of the same species is made available to bees for pollination. For some crops (corn, squash) bagging and handpollination is appropriate to save pure seed that is not cross pollinated.

    Some crops are annuals, other biennial and the latter need a winter (vernalisation) to stimulate flowering and seed production. Brassica, carrots, peppers, squash, melon, cucumber, onions are outcrossers(mainly bee pollinated) and cross pollinate unless isolation is practiced. Corn, spinach and beetroot/chard can cross for miles as their pollen is wind carried.

    Population size: 100 plants for corn, 50 for carrots, 40 for broccoli, at least 1 for self-pollinators (but more is better to allow for selection to the best plants). Perhaps ask direct neighbours to have some crops if space is limited to get population size up in a small garden.

    Start preferably from seed, rather than from nursery plants to allow for that first selection of seedlings - quick germination and vigorous seedlings. Select at every stage (often the thinnings are edible!), including selecting for the biggest, best seeds at the end of the process. Store seeds dry and cool out of direct sunlight. If you freeze seeds, they have to be very dry before they go into a hermetically sealed jar (for example kilner jar) and into the freezer. Taking out of the freezer, the jar needs to get to room temperature, before opening or condensation will make the seeds damp. Paper bags are best for seed storage.

    A few seed companies were recommended and a book, but I really don't want to get into advertising here.

    It occurred to me that much of what was recommended about fertiliser use, goes right against organic ideas as taught in the UK. For example, no mention was made that all this fertiliser produces run-off that gets into waterways and causes problems. HDRA/GO frequently warn against profligate use of resources in order to keep the health of the whole eco system in mind. However many of the comments in the webinar are just as applicable here as in the USA.

    A useful seedsaving chart with lots of information at a glance.
    Last edited by Galina; 04-02-2015, 10:25.


    • #3
      Great stuff, thank you!

      I personally think it's counterproductive to grow plants for seed in different conditions than you normally grow in. I'll be growing at normal spacing, normal fertiliser, at normal times, otherwise I'll end up selecting for plants that do well with lots of food and space. I'd rather select for plants that maximise production in my limited space and with my tendency to neglect things a little.


      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree wholeheartedly. Selection to the best plants grown under ordinary conditions makes much more sense to me.

    • #4
      Most interesting, thanks.


      • #5

        A second free seed saving webinar by the same guy on Thursday, 5th March.


        • #6
          Can't make up my mind.