Whether you’re a gardener, homesteader, or family historian, you should see the value of saving plant seeds for future generations. Renewing and ensuring your food supply as well as preserving family traditions are strong motives to learn how to save plant seeds. But first, we should understand even more reasons why you should be doing it.
Why It’s a Good Idea
Save Money – While it is a winter tradition for many, poring over seed catalogs can end up being a costly hobby. By saving and growing your own seeds from plants you’ve fallen in love with, you can expand your garden with little to no added expense. When you add the swapping aspect explained below, you can save even more.
Save and Preserve Heirlooms – Many heirloom plants and varieties are being lost as hybrids and modified specimens take their place. Make sure that some of these age-old plants are around for the future generations to enjoy. Your local garden clubs are often great sources of gardeners who cherish heirloom plants.
Preserve Unique Plants – No matter how much we search through seed and plant catalogs, some plants only cross our paths once. By saving seeds from your unusual specimen, you’ll be sure to enjoy it in the future without the frustration of trying to remember when, where, and how you originally obtained it.
Help the Wildlife – To collect seeds from many plants, you must let them grow after harvest in order to set seed. By allowing your plants to go to seed, you will be giving a boost to your local pollinators as well other wildlife. The longer “useful” life of the plant can help the insects and animals in your area by providing extra food and cover.
Family Connection – Saving the seeds from your garden can benefit you and your loved ones in many of the ways discussed above. But it can also give you another, more lasting reward – a lifelong connection with your family through the garden. Many gardeners enjoy growing what are commonly called “memory plants”. These plants are ones that Grandma grew or might have been in bloom during a momentous occasion such as a wedding or family vacation. It’s an even stronger connection when the new plants are grown from seeds that were actually gathered at that time.
Share and Swap – Seed swaps have become a popular way to share what you’ve collected while also expanding your own garden. Many swaps are conducted online and through the mail while others are embracing the social aspect and having actual events. These in-person seed swaps encourage new friendships to form and grow along with the plants. Many garden clubs and groups have regular seed swaps on their calendars.
Seed Libraries – Some public libraries and organizations have developed their own seed saving/swapping programs. These may as small as a box full of seed packets on a counter or as large as the underground bunker or “seed vault” in Norway. No matter the size, the goal is the same – to preserve and save seeds for the generations to come. Your local group may encourage you to both deposit and withdraw seeds from their “bank”. The larger institutions are there to ensure we don’t lose the diversity and wide genetic pool of the plants we still have in the world.
What You Can Do
Now that you have a better understanding of why saving seeds for the future is important, there is no time like the present to get started. Begin by choosing one of your favorite plants this year. Learn about its origin, its traits, and how best to save the seeds from this particular type of plant (they can differ). Pack it away and start dreaming of the plants you’ll grow again next year.
That is it! You are now among the ranks of the seed savers of the world. The future generations of plants and people who love them thank you for your effort.
By Julie Dees