This year I have to accept the fact that I may not be able to save ALL the seed for our urban potager. I live on a city street filled with blocks of homes, apartments, condos and city buildings, within a 1/2 mile or one mile radius, I do not know what people are growing on their balcony, porch, back/front yard or outside their business building. This makes it difficult to save seed for sustainability.
I have been saving open-pollinated seeds for the past 5 years and some will come “true to type”, but due to “isolation” it limits what seed I can save. Yes, I could hand pollinate some plants, but instead I support our USA farmers that produce Organic Seed when I am unable to isolate my seeds. I have found several good seed saving resources that explain in detail which seed can be saved and how to achieve that goal. One of the best books is Seed to Seed by Susanne Ashworth
In 2013, I did save some seed from a variety of plants from our urban potager, but only those that did not require a half-mile/mile of isolation. I have saved my Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers for 3 years, but this year I am growing about a dozen new peppers. Most seed are viable if stored properly, so I am able to save seed from one type each year, and this year I will determine which peppers I want to include in my seed saving rotation schedule.
Here, is a chart from FEDCO Seeds (http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/seed_saving.htm) with details about the seeds Life Cycle, Pollination, Pollinator, Isolation Distance, Seed Longevity + extra notes about seed types. I am a BIG fan of FEDCO Seeds they have a chart at the front of their catalog that lets you know where the seed is grown. I try to purchase open-pollinated, organic seed from USA certified “organic” farmers since our urban potager has never used any chemicals/ pesticides on our property!
It is hard to find all your seed organically grown in the USA, but it is possible if you take the time to seek out those farmers that make the effort to get “certified” and produce most of their plants using organic practices. You can grow your seed out and not use chemicals, but I find it is easier to start with seed that has been grown organically. The plants respond very well to organic growing conditions since they previously were grown using those practices.
The key to seed saving is to start with “open-pollinated” seed which means it will grow “true to type.”When you are able to save your own seed it is the only way you can control the characteristics that you prefer. For example, I have been saving Jimmy Nardello peppers for 3 years and this year I only saved those that turned red early + that is one trait important to our short growing season.
I saved Lemon Cucumber in 2013, so I will have to see if they come true from seed. I know the isolation was 1500 feet, but I don’t believe many of the people in my area grow food on their lots. I am really excited to see if they grow out “true to type” in 2014. I purchased my first seed from a variety of “organic certified seed” sources and grew a large amount of Lemon Cucumbers out last year! They also were not bothered at all by cucumber beetles, so that was a good trait. Each year you save seed they acclimate to your growing conditions, and that is one of the main reasons to save your own seed!
Spring is around the corner, so at Palm Rae Urban Potager I am busy starting spring vegetables, herbs + flowers!
Happy New Year Plantings!!!!