Preserving heirloom seeds is an excellent way to celebrate family traditions. It also helps you trim your annual gardening budget while keeping around unique varieties of plants. Here are step-by-step instructions on storing and saving heirloom seeds properly.
The Importance of Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom seeds, sometimes called open-pollinated seeds, have been passed down from generation to generation. Typically, heirlooms develop over time to be optimal for their local climate and soil.
They are hand selected for traits such as resistance to local pests, diseases, and inclement weather. Heirlooms help maintain the genetic diversity of the world’s food crops. Heirloom plants give gardeners a role in keeping our planet’s biodiversity.
How to Store and Save These Valuable Seeds
Before you can save seeds, you must grow healthy plants. Adequate water during the flowering and formation stages is essential to healthy seed growth. Next, you want to do the following:
Select the Right Seeds
Nurture all plants to maturity while saving an equal amount of seeds from each, especially for diseased or atypical plants. It’s best to choose healthy and robust plants, ensuring that you remove any diseased plants from your garden to avoid contamination. You also want seeds to fully mature to maximize life and viability. For seeds that will dry on the plant, a period of dry conditions at the end of the plant’s life cycle is ideal for reaching full maturity. We also suggest picking various plants to preserve the range of genetic diversity.
Don’t Cross-Pollinate Seeds
Be careful about cross-pollination. The best way to avoid cross-pollination is to grow one species or similar plants but keep them at a distance. According to The Spruce, you should space your heirloom tomatoes 2 to 3 feet apart.
You should also know that the squash family includes many plants, such as watermelons, cantaloupes, gourds, and cucumbers. If you want to save seeds from the squash family, ensure that you only choose one from each cross-pollinating species.
When growing wide varieties of the same species, consider the following:
- You can grow plants in separate cages that you can remove on alternate days, allowing them to pollinate while remaining distinct from the commingled pollen.
- You can bag individual flowers in cheesecloth and remove them on alternate days.
- You can stagger plants so that the flowering periods don’t overlap if your growing season allows
- You don’t want your plants to experience cross-pollination in your garden, but you should also be aware of what your neighbors are growing.
How to Store the Seeds
Before storing your seeds, you want to ensure that you dry them in a well-ventilated location for two or more weeks. Your seeds should be entirely dry to avoid mold and mildew and should snap in half versus bending. We suggest storing seeds in an airtight container in a cool and dry place.
Please keep them in the back of the refrigerator or freezer for long-term storage. Regardless of where you store them, you want to ensure they don’t become vulnerable to temperature or humidity fluctuations.
Saving heirloom seeds reinforces why gardening is so vital. Families who keep these plants are self-reliant, connected to the Earth, and deeply satisfied by watching nature at work. Plus, the recipes that you can create are endless.
Contact Baywater Farms today to learn more about our family-owned business and the benefits of buying your produce locally.
BAYWATER FARMS HAS THE RIGHT PRODUCE FOR YOU
Baywater Farms is a family-owned and operated farm servicing Baltimore, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware beaches, and the Eastern Shore. We are capable of meeting the demands of your produce distributor, restaurant produce supplier, CSA produce supplier, or wholesale produce supplier while maintaining the integrity and character of a small farm. When you work with Baywater Farms, you work with an experienced, ethical, and local farm dedicated to providing the highest-quality heirloom produce.