Author Topic: Seed Saving Circle outsider's observation  (Read 6985 times)


  • Hectare
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Seed Saving Circle outsider's observation
« on: November 27, 2023, 21:46:47 »
I don't want to hijack the thread, so I have started this one.

It is a fascinating read and you have my total admiration. My rare attempts at saving seeds have resulted in mouldy masses while heritage varieties I have tried all too easily show the deficiencies in taste and quality that (some) modern varieties have passed by.

My question is how do you keep the strains true when you are growing several varieties of the same thing?


  • Hectare
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Re: Seed Saving Circle outsider's observation
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2023, 22:06:21 »
Hi Paulh

Thank you for your positive comments and question.

Some types are easier than others. Tomatoes, French beans, peas and lettuces usually stay true to type and are great ones to start with.  Some other vegetables need more care. Runner beans, peppers, brassicas, for example, tend to cross with any other variety of the same type that you’re growing. So you can go for growing just one variety or you can grow different varieties a long way apart if you’ve got that kind of space, or you can use more fiddly methods like putting netting, fleece etc over a complete plant or over one or more flowers.

The company Real Seeds has very helpful summaries by type of vegetable of how to save true to type seed

It’s really rewarding and quite addictive when you get into it. The seed circle is very supportive. Do feel free to ask specific questions on that thread or here, and consider starting with say French beans which are great because there are so many different colours and patterns of seed, and they’re almost certain to stay true. 


  • Hectare
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Re: Seed Saving Circle outsider's observation
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2023, 08:26:38 »
Thank you Jan.  Just so! 

Another that perhaps could do with being added are the common 4 species of courgette, pumpkin and winter squash.  Most people grow them, all allotment situations grow many of them and to isolate and handpollinate is a must for 3 of the 4 species.  The fig leaf gourd aka shark fin melon is the exception as there is only the one variety in common circulation.  But for the others, it is advised to be careful.  The green courgette, the acorn squash and the orange halloween pumpkin are in the same species for example, they are all cucurbita pepo and will cross freely.  A couple of years ago there was the bitter issue too with cucurbita pepo.  Because some ornamental squashes are bitter and can make you ill if you eat their fruit, people who just 'let courgettes cross' can get bitter courgette plants accidentally.  Even a commercial seed company accidentally sold contaminated seeds with the bitter gene. 

Unfortunately seed companies are usually very bad at adding the species information for cucurbita, so if in doubt, assume they can cross with something else you or others are growing in the vicinity.  The crossing is done by bees and other insects including flea beetles who love the yellow flowers, so special measures are needed to produce pure seeds, and bees can fly for a mile easily to find food. 

Many crops only produce seed in their second year, so winter storage is something that comes into seed saving.  It also means that you have crops growing for much longer than you do for growing to eat, so you need a bit of extra space available. 

And the extra space needed includes tolerant spouses and families, because invariably we take up extra space indoors to dry these seeds down to avoid mouldy masses.  Not every family will tolerate the drying space needed.  And this includes the disasters that pets and children can do to drying seeds.  One of our seed circle participants a few years ago told us about their very tidy parent who removed and binned all that messy 'debris' left on a windowsill.   

But it is all do-able.  And as Jan said, you can start with easy, but just as interesting crops. 

« Last Edit: November 28, 2023, 08:50:16 by galina »

markfield rover

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Re: Seed Saving Circle outsider's observation
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2023, 19:12:16 »
I am very much entry level here , as stated above growing the less demanding vegetables, although no less tasty for it ,having said that this year I grew a runner bean at home and well isolated, I am learning!  Also here I  believe that however daft a question I ask I know replies will be generous and informative.


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