Sustainable Table: Seed Saving

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MEDFORD, Ore. – It was a practice essential to our ancestors for thousands of years: if they didn’t save the seeds from one year to the next the consequences were simple: they didn’t eat.

Seed saving is still going on, especially this time of year. Tuesday night, curious gardeners gathered at Jackson County’s OSU Extension Office to learn how to get the most out of those tiny seeds.

Sharon Austin-Johnson shares her love for gardening with her two grand kids and she is making the right choice by learning the specifics about seed saving. Those who are interested have to harvest a seed when the plant is fully mature.

“I have saved a few seeds but I totally don’t know if I am doing it right or wrong or what,” said Sharon.

Tal Blankenship, who has been saving seeds for three decades, said after harvest, comes storage. You don’t need anything fancy; in most cases, paper envelopes or paper bags work just fine.

“You never run out as long as you have a place to store it. You don’t need any refrigeration or anything,” said Tal.

“I think the little guy saving seeds is really what’s going to keep these really good varieties of food sustenance going. Bob Hulse, who is also learning about seed saving. The little guy will save money, the only cost is getting the seeds for the first time, but picking the right seeds to start is important. Just remember heirloom, not hybrid.

“Look at the package, if the package does not say hybrid or F1, filliogeneration, then you can rest assured that it’s probably not a hybrid,” said Tal.

Seed saving allows a gardener to be picky when they pick.

“And then you’ll go through and say, ‘Oh! I like that one!’ It’s the first one that germinated and you’ll take that and you’ll save the seed from that, you’ll take that seed and you’ll sow that out, and a couple more plants will come up earlier, if that’s what you’re selecting for,” explained Tal. “You will take care of that plant, better than any other plant in your garden because you are part of that process.”

And as Sharon believes, better care of herself and her grand kids.

“It’s really important to me to make sure that I grow healthy fruit and healthy vegetables and healthy herbs and use things as fresh as I can from the garden,” Sharon said.

Another big benefit of seed saving is if you are using the same seeds from the same plant year after year. Eventually, four or five years later that plant will adapt itself to your garden, your soil and your climate. View the links below for more information: