Saving seed a great way to develop custom-bred plants

Besides, multinational agriculture corporations have been lobbying our government to make seed collection illegal

Mary Lowther has seeds sorted and waiting to be planted next year

With so many varieties of seed available commercially some gardeners may wonder why they should bother saving their own, but there is good reason to. Successive generations of plants adapt to their region so the seeds we save will grow better plants each year. Saving your own is simple and costs nothing, so you might as well give it a try.

Besides, multinational agriculture corporations have been lobbying our government to make seed collection illegal, presumably so they can control the world’s food supply. This could put regional seed companies out of business, with seed that has adapted to particular garden climate and soil conditions available only to those who save their own.

I have been saving my own seed for the last five years and wish I had started sooner. Did I mention how easy it is? Since annuals like tomatoes, squash, peas and beans produce seed the same year they’re planted, they are easiest. Wait until they’re dead ripe before harvesting the fruit, then dry the seed and put it into packets. Tomato seeds need to ferment in a bit of water for a couple of days before you dry them out since the fermentation process kills off pathogens.

Biennials like carrots, beets and onions should be moved to a bed separate from the rest of the garden at the end of the first year since it’s easier to tend them when they’re grouped together. Carefully dig up the best specimens and transplant them to the new bed in late fall, mid-winter or very early spring and they should produce seed by the end of that summer.

Some perennials like garlic and asparagus also produce seed that can be saved and replanted. Garlic is a little complicated so I will deal with it in a later column, but I have let asparagus go to seed in its bed. These take a few years to grow into food producing plants but I figure it’s worth a try. With organic asparagus at $10 a pound what have I got to lose?

Stored seeds last longest in cool, dry conditions. I put mine into quart-sized jars with a packet of desiccant in each one, labeled the first and 15th of each month of the growing season, and I put in each jar all the packets of seeds that should be sown on those dates. When the time comes I just look into the jar and sow what’s in there, then move the ones that need re-sowing in a few weeks to the next jar.

Seeds can often remain viable for several years and there are usually more than one needs, so if anyone is interested in swapping their surplus, email me at For more information on this critical subject, Seeds of Diversity Canada has published a manual titled: How To Save Your Own Seeds, and there’s a wealth of information on the Internet that my granddaughter showed me how to find.

Just Posted

Caps edged in overtime

Cowichan in a must-win situation going into game six at the Big Stick on Sunday

Cowichan 49ers return to Tony Grover Cup final

The Cowichan 49ers are back in the Tony Grover Cup final after… Continue reading

Nanaimo rink wins Duncan mixed bonspiel

Many local teams in the mix

Flu outbreak at Cowichan District Hospital

42 people diagnosed at facility since March 15

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Coming up in Cowichan: World Water Day

Shawnigan Lake marks World Water Day Got clean local water? “The ability… Continue reading

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

Most Read