Heirloom Seeds

Open Pollinated Seeds

Our garden is in its second year and whenever possible we've planted heirloom vegetable varieties and open pollinated seeds, rather than hybrid seeds. We've chosen to do this because open pollinated and heirloom vegetables produce seed which can be replanted. On the other hand hybrid plants yield seeds that are not suitable for seed saving and every year seeds must be purchased again from the manufacturer.

Benefits of Seed Saving

Seeds that have been saved and replanted in the same conditions for several years in a row will become acclimated to the environment. Our intense, high desert climate is unique and unlike other areas. Plants that have be grown from locally saved seed will be adapted to our particular climate; they will be stronger and better able to withstand the wind, suited to the length of our growing season, prepared for the sun's intensity and dryness of the desert.

Saving seed is also critical to keeping the vegetable varieties that you love alive and growing from year to year.

Seed Saving is an Art

Even in our first year of gardening, we were eager to experiment with the art of seed saving. We quickly discovered that there are a lot of details to consider when saving seed and some plants are easier to save from than others. Last year we saved seed from Hopi squash, radish, nasturtium, petunia, marigold, sunflower, watermelon, tomato, and Hopi beans. This year we are looking forward to growing our saved seeds and we will be seed saving whenever possible.

I highly recommend this book if you are serious about seed saving:

Seed to Seed

Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
by Suzanne Ashworth and Kent Whealy. Seed Savers Exchange, 2nd edition, 2002.

This book gives in depth detail on a number of seed saving techniques and shares the specifics of which species will and will not cross. Also includes guidelines for processing, storing and planting saved seeds. I have found it to be an invaluable guide in my seed saving adventures.

Click here to buy this book >>

Heirloom Seeds

I discovered Botanical Interests last fall and so far I've had great success with the heirloom seeds that I have gotten from them. I planted some of these seeds in the greenhouse over the winter and am planting more of these heirloom seeds in the garden this spring:

Click here to see all of the heirloom seeds offered by Botanical Interests.

Seed Banks

I think that keeping a seed bank on hand makes a lot of sense, especially for folks who are seeking to be self-sufficient and want to ensure that there is always a plentiful supply of vegetables in the garden. I recently came across a site that offers seed banks that are sealed for long term storage. Seed banks with bulk quantities of non-hybrid seeds, including open pollinated and heirloom vegetable varieties are available at Heirloom Organics:

Click here to learn more about the benefits of using non-hybrid seeds.

More Garden Articles

Of all of the various projects that we have undertaken on the homestead, the garden has captivated my attention. There are so many details to absorb and each plant seems to have its own personality and specific needs. I love to learn new things...and there is a lot of learning to be done in the garden. See the following articles to read about how our garden got its start.

Garden Planning
Making Garden Soil
Designing and Building Cold Frames
Constructing Raised Garden Beds
Installing a Garden Fence