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Logo of AdAgrA 2019: True Success

Seed Saving Basics

Bob Gregory


Bob Gregory

Owner/Director of Berea Gardens Agriculture Center in Minnora, WV



  • January 17, 2019
    4:00 PM


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One of the reasons that saving our seat is becoming more implore important is because there are 3 companies right now that control about 90 percent of the world's seed 3 companies only and I've got more than that listed here the ones with a red X. on him are Kompany is that existed last year that have either been bought or combined with the 3 companies that are left in the 3 companies that are left are bare at Bayer Agra systems can China and Court T.V. which is a conglomeration of Dupont and Dow Agra sciences Court T.V. is the only one that is based in the United States. These 3 companies as I said control the network of seed producers and seed marketing companies throughout the world this aggregation started taking place in the late 1990 S. with the advent of genetically modified crops and it has accelerated to the point now were basically all of these little blue bubbles were seed companies companies that had the rights and the and the fields where the seed was grown and preserved and processed and marketed and they're all under the control now of essential E 3 primary companies and they're all interrelated so even companies that we typically thought were independent because they had a different name maybe than Monsanto were still controlled by the parent companies that determined what for right is a seed would be marketed the next year now seed is an interesting thing because if we stop reproducing seed what happens to the variety. It goes extinct and this is the reason why we had so many thousands of varieties of crops 100 years ago that we no longer have today because they weren't considered economically viable the seed companies profit by developing new varieties and they want you to buy those new varieties and if they hold the rights to the seed that you're currently using and they decide they want you to use a newer variety all they have to do is stop contracting for the reproduction of that seed and it's it's gone. 10 years ago I was growing a variety of cabbage called red. Red success it was an excellent open pollinated variety of cabbage I can't get seed for that anymore because the company that was producing that seed got a directive from someone up the chain of corporate structure that said we've got other red varieties that we want to introduce into the marketplace because these are the varieties that that we make the most profit on so instead of red success now we have red express as an example and this has occurred with about 15 or 20 of the different seed varieties some of them hybrid some of them open pollinated that I have wanted to produce over the years so about a decade ago I decided if I want these varieties I better keep them and maintain them for myself and that's what I've done one of the activities that we have a brewery of gardens our farm in Virginia is that we've decided to start a seed bank there and that seed bank is basically acquiring seeds from our friends and neighbors that have a long history of gardening within the. Little can all River Valley where I live that have been there for 100 or 150 years seeds like this little bean right here and we wanted to make sure that they didn't go extinct and we wanted to acquire those seeds for our own use because hey they're really well adapted to that area because they've been there so long I can't buy this seed anywhere there's no place I can buy this seed and the only way I'm going to be able to grow it successively is if I produce that seed myself so there's a lot of incentive for us to take up this activity more so now than then than ever before. If you're just starting out and gardening when you buy your initial seed to plant your garden I strongly recommend that you buy seed from a reliable commercial growers supplier not just some mail order seed company or not just seed packs off the off the rack mount Walmart or your local garden center go to you know go to some resources online and find a company that supplies market growers Now why would I say that the reason that I say that is that seed just like the foods and vegetables and fruits that we buy very tremendously in quality and guess where the worst quality get sold. It gets sold direct market to consumers because frankly most home gardeners don't know the difference between a good seed in a bad seed and if they plant something that doesn't germinate Well they just assume it was their fault but a commercial Rick grower relies on the seed that he's purchasing he's buying a lot more seed than most home gardeners are in the company's reputation that selling that seed is a little bit on the line they want repeat customers and they don't want bad press so a seed can look actually the same in size and the same in appearance and still have vastly different quantity qualities partly because of the variation in density of the seed one of the ways that seed is graded is by specific gravity the heavier the seed and the same size generally the better quality that seed is that has more energy stored in it and that energy is what's going to produce the plant when you put that in the ground and you'll get a better quality plant from a dense seed than from a lighter seed so the seeds are graded typically 3 grades and the lightest grade and one that has the least vigor and the least energy stored in it is the one that gets sold in the little seed packets typically so by buying a from a commercial supplier you get typically better quality seed if you need a list of those my website is Berea gardens dot au argy and we have a list of seed suppliers that I use not that those are the only ones that are good but if you need a starting point there's 5 or 6 seed companies that I use that you can order from online and you get much better quality seed and what you'll get locally. When you're selecting these varieties select varieties that are for your conditions consider your climate your day length how long your season is and also factors of disease resistance now that's more important for me where I live in West Virginia because we live and an environment that is very hot and humid in the summer and very conducive to a lot of different diseases so that's using one of the 1st considerations I make when I'm selecting a new variety to trial is it's disease resistance that helps and enormously in a variety of other ways too some of which I've talked about this this week in terms of pest control. Always plant multiple varieties in your garden of the same crop if you're growing broccoli for example grow 3 or 4 varieties of broccoli don't focus on just one for rioting and that's to overcome some of the variables that we get with environmental conditions during the growing season sometimes for example I grow about 7 different varieties of lettuce each year 2 of those varieties are one is a red leaf variety and one is a Romaine variety that are my primary economic staples for the markets that I have I sell a lot of the Romaine in the red leaf lettuce to the school systems in our area and if I happen to have a really bad year and and the genetic characteristics of that red leaf lettuce allow for a certain invasion of downy mildew strain or something I may not produce very well but some of the other backup strains that I have maybe do maybe will will perform very well and I've seen I've seen many instances where one year one variety will do very well and the next year it doesn't do so well and one of the right is that typically doesn't do very well does very well so you you have a variation each growing season with the characteristics of the crop that you're going to grow so grow a variety of different crops for your security. I use also a combination of open pollinated varieties which is what we're going to focus on today in seed saving but I do use hybrid varieties too and there are many. Kind of myths circulating among the the gardening community today about the virtue of open pollinated varieties over hybrid varieties and I want to dispel some of that with you today because frankly there is absolutely no reason not to make use of hybrid seed one of the disadvantages of using hybrid seed is if you save it for the succeeding season you don't really know what you're going to get it's got very various variations in its genetic characteristics and you don't really know what you're going to get but there's no reason there's no additional virtue or there's no a Denecke property to. An open pollinated seed over a a hybrid seed. In fact in reality the only difference between the 2 is 7 generations and I'm going to walk you through that in a minute. One thing I strongly suggest to you if you're preparing for the next gardening season or a gardening season 2 or 3 years from now is to order your seeds now get them now and the reason that I say that has to do with that conglomeration of seed companies that I was pointing out to you that the range and variety that we have available to us is getting narrower and narrower and narrower and if you'd identify a variety in your seed catalog that looks like it has good characteristics and you want to get some 2 to utilize in your own garden even though you may not planted next year or the following year get it now and I'm going to talk to you in a few minutes about how you can store that seed for a long period of time viably and make use of it when you are ready to use it but as I said this gene pool is getting smaller the available right varieties are getting narrower this this this world of seed variation is shrinking very very quickly. Now seed is made by the sexual reproduction of plants and I'm going to take us back to to our high school science class here for just a minute to give you an explanation of the difference between an open pollinated or sometimes they're called heirlooms. Variety of seed and what a hybrid seed is and what the differences between the 2 as we look at seed it's the combination of a male portion of the plant which is the pollen from the stamens of the plant and a female egg in the plant which is inside the pesto when this pollen falls down got a weak battery here if this pollen falls down and fertilize is this egg from the same plant that the flowers have both sexual parts then that's what's considered an open pollinated variety and an open pollinated variety can extend across many different individuals if they're all genetically. Genetically the same for example or Roma tomatoes and open pollinated variety and if this flower is going or growing on one Roma tomato plant and this flower is growing on one that's 30 feet down the row they're still genetically identical both the pollen and the egg have the same characteristics of this can pollinate this and this can pollinate this and you still have the same genetic characteristics within that plant and that seed will reproduce what we call true to type. Open pollinated varieties will reproduce true to type meaning that that characteristics that you get in the following season are going to be identical to what you planted in the current season. From which you save the seed now an F one hybrid is something that's a little bit different and we use hybridisation to combine the characteristics of 2 different types. Of the same species of plant this only works within the same species of plant you know you can't pollinate a corn plant with a bean seed obviously and that's because these pollens are various species specific so I'm going to use just this example here of having a seed parent in this case this is the female seed parent with the eggs down here and a male pollen Parent A that has a different characteristics smaller flower with dark dark petals in hybridizing what we do is we secure this this this egg here and make certain that only this pollen from this pollen parent fertilizes this egg and the traditional early stages of plant breeding Typically this is done by removing the stamens on this flower so that it can't solve pollinate So we now have. A seed here that has half of its genetic code from this flower the large single color flower and half of its genetic code from the smaller flower with the dark petal tips the offspring of that can express any combination of those 2 characteristics. It can be a smaller flower that is not my color it can be a larger flower that is by color which is the example that I've shown you here and it can combine a number of the different characteristics of those 2 parents it has the genetic code and instruction for both and this is considered an F one hybrid offspring here I'm going to give up on that the F. one hybrid offspring. Is is a combination of the characteristics of the 2 seed parents the pollen parent and the seed parent and now that effort will be made and told this F. one offspring is consistent that we find 2 parents that produce a consistent offspring with the characteristics that we were looking for in this case a large flower with color tips and that's considered an F one hybrid F one stands for 1st filial or 1st family relationship the diagram and the upper left here shows us coming up with that F. one hybrid offspring and many many people there's a myth that you can't save seed from a hybrid how many of you are heard that that's not true what is true is you can't save seed from that hybrid and expect it to reproduce true to type and there's another danger in that too that I'll share with you in just a moment if you continue though to allow this F one hybrid to self pollinate. The offspring of that will be the F. 2 and the F. 2 May have entirely different characteristics from this all of the general characteristics will be of those 1st 2 parents but the different combinations of genes which ones are dominant can give you a different expression in the offspring so in the F. 2 generation or the 2nd generation of this we've got a small flower this by colors a little bit more like the pollen parent but it's even smaller than that if we allow that to self pollinate and go to the F. 3 generation we get something different yet again because the genetics are not stabilized the dominant genes have not all kind of stabilised when we get to F. or same thing happens if 6 it starts to settle that genome a little bit and we start to get more of a consistent expression of the dominant dominant characteristics so that by the time we're at the F. 7 generation this crop is reproducing true to type and you have a new open pollinated variety Pretty cool huh I share this with you because I want I want to start experimenting more with our F. ones typically we've been told You can't do that. But there's no reason why you can't and in some instances at this F. 23 or 4 level you're going to find a really extraordinary variety something that works really really well for you the challenge is you can't save the seed from that after 3 and have it reproduce true to type so if you want that same crop again you've got to go back through the same steps and go you know and take 3 years to reproduce that but I don't want you to discourage you from from doing that because it's really kind of cool. Now there is a cavity out to this that can throw a wrench in the whole system of producing your own new open pollinated variety and that is that when the seed companies and Mischa least select these 2 parents here they typically find a seed parent the one that they want to fertilize the egg in that is pollen sterile that has a gene for sterility and that means that that gene for sterility is carried on through these other generations and if it should express dominantly that's going to be the end of the line for you because you won't be able to produce seed from that plant but by that time you know a lot of work has been done before this point to so that these 2 are very settled in their genetics and you know what the outcome of that is going to be and that 1st F one across there OK now there's no reason why you can't do some of this in your gardens too I think seed experimentation is a fine thing it takes time and it requires more space and energy but it can be a lot of fun but I I I showed this to you to encourage you to maybe kind of give up on some of that myth that somehow an open pollinated variety of a crop is more virtuous or has more Adenike qualities in the sense that it's more like what God created then a hybrid that's that's hogwash. And the reality is that we have opportunities with hybrid seed to save them and to use them in breeding programs and to make them useful also right while I'm saying that I just want to point out there is no single article of food that we eat on this planet today that is anything like what its original creation was there's absolutely nothing no fruits no grains no vegetables there is nothing anywhere near like what the original construction was and part of the reason for that is as this hybridization process takes place in nature all the time every time a bee carries a grain of pollen to a different plant you have cross-pollination you have a new hybrid variety every time a wind blows and tree pollen blows across the landscape and trees are are setting their acorns as acorns are all genetically genetic variations of each other and nothing that we eat today's anything like what it originally was genetically modified is a whole different world you do not want to save in fact legally you can't save seed from a genetically modified crops it's illegal so I'll just leave it at that that puts an end to that time. Those are different critters. OK for saving seed in your garden we want to start with healthy plants that are dedicated to the purpose of producing seed the biggest mistake most home gardeners make is that they go out and they plant their kale and they're harvesting kale and then all of a sudden the keel bolts and they think oh I'll just leave it in the garden for a while and collect the seed when it's done big mistake big mistake to do that because all of that leaf matter as what provides the nutrition for that top quality seed these plants aren't growing because they think we're going to eat and they're growing because they want to reproduce themself and produce seeds so you've got to let that plant do its job of reproduction and you can't succeed in that if you're harvesting crop off of that especially with vegetables now with fruiting crops it's a little bit different but get to that in just a minute but you want to dedicate the plant to that purpose and when you do it you want to select the strongest plants that you have this is where over generations when this bean was 1st planted in the little kind of valley of West Virginia I don't know if it was this big or not it would likely was was probably a smaller bean in the generations that have grown that there since then had the sense to save the best of their crop for seed for the next year that's a selection process that's a natural selection process that has taken place for for generations among farmers that improve the quality is of the crop especially for your specific environment. So select the strongest and you want to make sure that there's no virus disease or mechanical damage on the crops that you collect seed from either the other consideration is in order to produce seed that's true to type and avoid making an inadvertent hybrid you've got to have a secure isolation of the crops that you're going to or those plants that you're going to use for sea and isolation can occur 2 ways it can occur by distance or it can occur by time. I was just talking with someone about some of the the open pollinated corn that I have seed for over here and she was worried about planting it because the neighbors across the road plant G.M.O. corn and she didn't want to cross-pollinate So I explained to her that if she waits until about 2 to 3 weeks after they plant that corner across the street she can safely plant her house because by the time the pollen on the corner across the street that is G.M.O. is as has expanded its pollen in the pollen is no longer viable then hers will be self pollinate in her own field so time is a wonderful tool for providing isolation to our crops. The aspect of distance is not 100 percent but it's also a means of producing producing seed and I have to use distance more so than time with crops that grow on an annual basis like squash or pumpkins or tomatoes I can't vary my planting dates on that to match and even if I do the tomatoes are producing all season so I've got lots of tomato pollen in the environment and lots of opportunity for cross pollination with insects moving it but use either distance or time to segregate these varieties. The 2nd biggest mistake people make in saving their own seed is using seed from food that they've harvested saving a tomato that they decided was really tasty to Mater were some neighbor gives them a tomato and they decided that wow that was really good I want to save the seed from this and planting that or a cucumber. Or or or a green bean seeds will actually germinate when they're fairly in a church but for the best quality seed and for the longest lasting seed you want seed that is very very ripe and for vegetables that means that the seed has grown to a point or or the plant has grown to a point where it's naturally shedding about 10 percent of its seed going into more detail on vegetable seed here in a minute but when the plant is shedding 10 percent of its seed that's the time to harvest it not before then and for fruits like tomatoes or cucumber or melons you want them far past the point where they're edible things that we would consider a way that's way too old and I can eat that in fact watermelons and many other of the fruits will actually split open and start to decay a little bit I wait until my tomatoes are or are kind of rubbery and and starting to sour on the vine before I I save the seed from them to make sure that it's totally mature and mature seed can grow but it's not as viable and won't store as long. For collecting seed it's really a fairly simple process with vegetables number one let me go back a little bit to how I use time to segregate. The crops and I'm saving seed from I told you earlier I grow 7 different varieties of lettuce and you know that occupies a lot of space so how do I keep all that let us from cross pollinating Well it's pretty obvious that for the most part I harvest my lettuce for market long before it's producing seed. So I can produce 7 different varieties and designate maybe one or 2 varieties for the for the plants that I'm going to use to save seed from and I let them continue to grow they're in the ground long after the other ones have been harvested so there's no threat from from cross pollination there and in general it takes at least twice as long sometimes 3 times as long to produce seed as it does to grow the crop the vast majority of things that we that are vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower we're cutting at a very very. Immature stage in terms of seed production so you're going to need to consider that and timing your crops so that you're not trying to grow broccoli seeds from a late planted crop of broccoli that it's going to need to be producing it seed in January or are when it's not practical for that plant to be growing Typically I use spring planted crops for my seed production and my seed is not ripe even with things like lettuce until usually September and I've already harvested the lettuce maybe back in May. Now most of our vegetable crops things like kale and broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage and and other plants. Produce their seed on what's called a panicle they'll send a shoot up from the center of the sea most of us have seen this one our crops have bolted lettuce the same way it'll shoot up what's called a seed panicle that sets the flowers and then the seeds are formed on that panicle that rises and most generally are vegetable seed crops are in tiny pods that mature after that that flower has been pollinated and when those pods 10 percent of them split open and start to spill the seed on the ground that's when it's time to harvest the entire panicle and what I do is I take a large trash bag and I put it over the seed panicle I gathered at the bottom and I cut the seed panicle off and then I take that seed panicle into a dark room and hang it upside down for a period of time and you want to do this when that panicle is dried in you're going to want to continue to dry even more so I will take the panicle inside typically what I'll do is all string I put a string across the room where I'm drawing this and I'll put some newspaper on the ground under it and I will remove the panicle from that plastic bag and just hang it upside down to continue dry place it in a dark environment and allow it to dry down to at least 12 percent moisture this is another reason why a lot of people don't have success when saving their own seed they don't dry it and now and I'm not talking about 12 percent humidity I'm not talking about 12 percent oyster in the environment I'm talking about 12 percent waste you're in the seed in the end in in the seed industry we use moisture meters to measure this but this is really critical it's got to be less than 12 percent or it will not store it will rot Now how do we know for home gardeners. When that seat is at 12 percent well I want to do an experiment here this is usually where I get to pull out my pocket knife and show you how to show you how to tell when a seat is at 12 percent but the airport wouldn't let me bring it. So I'm going to ask for a volunteer here there's someone that has a pocket knife or if I could borrow it for just a moment. What I do is take the seed and this is true I'm going to use a bean seed here but this is true for any kind of seed to determine whether there's less than 12 percent Y. Sure and it's ready for storage and if if you can get in a position to see this it would be helpful but if not just use your ears and you'll see what happens now what happens typically when you cut something with a knife it splits open or you cut it in half what I'm going to do here is push this down this is this is not a great pocket knife by the way you might be in trouble in your job interview. OK what just happened. That shattered the sea just shattered there's no clean cut here I broke the seat I'm sorry Pam the switcher Siegman I sacrifice it guts good cause when it actually broke apart shattered I didn't slice through it I didn't cut through it and that's a simple test to tell whether you've got less than 12 percent moisture in your seed. This is a good sign this is this is good this will store for a good long while for you and I'll tell you how. I'll tell you how. OK Once you've once you've got the C drive down to that point again let's visualize we're in a room with our seed panicle hanging we just tested the seed and it's it's less than 12 percent moisture now we've got to separate the seed from the rest of the stuff the pod the stems the leaves that might be dried on the plant at this point I'll put it back in that plastic trash bag and I'll take out all of my frustrations by beating that bag against the wall and this is really good therapy if I say to my wife Honey I'm going to go clean some seeds she knows something's on my mind she knows I'm bugged about it but it's fun and I just kind of you know break it up and beat it up a little bit and give it a little rub like this and get all that loose seed separated from from its Pods and it drops down to the bottom of the bag I open the bag and I remove the bulk of the other stuff but there's still a lot of that chaff that's mixed in with the seed at that point I'll pour the bag into a 5 gallon bucket and I set up a little box fan at the end of a table I send another bucket behind the box fan an empty one behind the box fan not in front of it I'll turn on the box fan and I will slowly poor the seed from one bucket to the other and adjust the distance to that box fan so that I'm pulling out the majority of the debris and it blows through your box and you get your box fan dirty but it's better to do it on the back side than it is the front side because you have a lot more control over the suction of the air rather than you do the air blowing into it. And I'll do that once or twice or maybe even 3 times until all of that debris is out of my seat and I'll do it the 3rd time fairly close to the fans so that about 10 percent of that seat actually blows through the fan I'm not trying to save every seat at this point why. Because I want the heavier seat I want to see that has the strongest viability and the best quality so 10 percent of it gets blown away in the wind then it's ready to package to label and date and to store now that's vegetable seed fruit seeds a little different critter because if I'm saving a tomato for example I don't have to dedicate that single plant to seed production because it potentially is going to produce a lot of tomatoes and I don't need more than one or 2 tomatoes to save all the seed I'm going to use but what I do is I find a vigorous plant and I identify early on in its development a really good quality fruit on that plant and I tag it with a piece yellow tape then I keep that plant fairly well Fand meaning that at times of the year you tomato plants can just get absolutely loaded I don't let it get loaded with fruit because I want a lot of energy going into that that one fruit that I've selected that I can pick maybe 8 or 10 or a dozen other tomatoes off that plant consume them and be just fine with that but I don't let it get overloaded with fruit and when I harvest that tomato again I harvest it long after it would be considered you know good for my salad in fact many times I'll just wait until it naturally falls in the ground and drops off the plant same thing is true with cucumbers and those you know those baseball bat zucchinis you get that's the kind is again you want to save for seed not not the one that's going to go to your table. And I simply you know take that in and use a large. It's a like it's like a colander but basically it's a screen but it's the size of a colander and I separate the seed from the tomato as best I can wash off all of the all of the flesh that's around the seed and try to get it down to the pier seed be careful not to rub the seed against the screen because that scarify is the seed or damages the outer the outer shell of the seed that's one of the stimulants for seed germination so they won't store as well if you scratch the seed but you want to get it as clean as you possibly can and typically. That takes of a few minutes to accomplish you don't want to just casually rinse it off for the next step but take some time and get it as clean as you can and take the seed then and I use a paper towel on a paper plate and I will take the seed out of the screen and I'll spread it around evenly on the top of a paper towel it doesn't have to be a paper plate but it absorbs more history too because you need now to get that seed down to less than 12 percent too and the best way to do that is just in a dark area and you know allow allow the seed to dried typically mine will will dry maybe 3 or 4 days time. And then I break the seed loose because it kind of sticks to the paper towel break the seed loose do a test on it just like I did with the bean with a pocket knife make sure it doesn't slice but it shatters and then the same thing label it package it and and date it for storage so now I've got my tomato seeds that are dry that are in a in a package and I like to use a package that's airtight that's moisture tight I should say but it doesn't have to be airtight there's a real misconception about needing to vacuum pack your seeds if you're going to save them for a long time that's an Internet marketing or a late night television commercial. And you know incentive for you to buy seed from them because you've got to save it for the time of trouble and you know we don't know when that's going to be so you get your hermetically sealed. Seed in a package that's then hermetically sealed inside of a steel cane and so it will last through the you know through the atomic blast and what they don't tell you though is they say guess what kind of sea they select for those kinds of marketing toys they get they get the crummiest stuff they can buy because they know that hey you know if that time of trouble does come they're not going to be around any way to come back on the likelihood of you planting that and coming back on them you know 10 or 15 years down the road is pretty slim so don't fall for those things at all that just doesn't work although it is possible to save your seed for as long as as as 10 or 12 years I have some lettuce seed that I saved that I used up I mean I used it commercially up until it was 9 and the 10th season the germination started to drop a little bit although I still could have used it for home use I stopped using it because they're you know it was down to about 7578 percent germination and you know you can store these things for a long time but one of the requirements seed have has is some air so that hermetically sealed stuff is just not not practical and when we you know when we talk about storage when we consider storage. There are 3 things that trigger a seed to germinate we often think of seeds as just being dormant and dead and that's not true at all they're very active or they can be very active and there are many different enzyme activities that take place and seed with variations in moisture lighting temperature and that's what triggers the germination and if the seed doesn't germinate it's still wears itself out the energy that stored in that seed wears itself out when it gets a signal to germinate and it's going up it's time to germinate now and it's not time germinate No no it's not every time it goes through a cycle like that it diminishes the viability of the seed and reduces its potential to save all that energy to put into a good strong plant you know when we plan our seeds take a being for example when we plant our seeds all of the energy that forms all of the roots and all of the stem and as the Caudal Eden's come on out of the ground and the 1st leaves begin to form there is really no food production going on until those 1st true leaves fully expand and in the case of the bean that can be 2 or 3 weeks. For all the energy for that initial growth comes from the seed. So it's got a big job to do and we don't want to compromise it in any way so we want to store our seed in an environment that is dry we want to keep it below less than 12 percent and you know the container can do part of that job but I prefer an environment that where where where the air surrounding the jurors also at 12 percent or less and light is a trigger for seed in fact some seeds require light to germinate lettuce will not Germany in the dark it requires some light and if we want to store that seed we want to limit ate all those signals from from light so we wanted in the dark and we want a steady cool temperature because temperature fluctuations also affect the enzymes in that seed So anywhere that we can store this where the moisture is steady there is no light and the temperature is cool and steady there are a variety of ways we can do this my preference is to use a freezer I'm a I'm a commercial grower so I have a lot of seed and I keep enough seed to last for about 3 years so I have a small chest freezer that I keep my seed in it's not very big it's maybe 910 cubic feet something like that and the only thing in that freezer is my seed. The reason for that a lot of people keep their seed in a refrigerator they see this and I will put it in the fridge or we'll put it in the freezer. And you know above the refrigerator it's not a really good idea because we're opening and closing those doors all the time and not only that but the food products that we put in our refrigerator especially fruits give off a plant hormone called ethylene as they ripen and as they start to decompose they they give off ethylene ethylene is deadly to seed it will damage it and prevent it from germinating too so you know if you do decide to use something like a freezer or one that you might use for a long period of storage. That has food items on it wouldn't be so bad that you don't want to use put this in your daily refrigerator. Other methods of storing it it doesn't have to be freezing but freezing does not hurt seed temperate zone seeds I wouldn't put tropical seeds in our freezer but any of the typical garden vegetables that we go broke and can easily be stored in the freezer and most of them will store for quite some time now in the case of beans I recommand that we definitely replenish beans seed about once every 3 years beans lose viability faster than other seeds in part because they are so high in protein and the enzyme activity that's taking place in the bean wall will wear it out pretty quickly but other varieties of seed kale beets lettuce. A wide variety of different things can can last for really quite a long time and maintain their viability but I still think it's best to use fresh seed and I strive to replace my seed about once every 3 years. The open pollinated varieties that I grow or are replenished about once every 3 years it's rare that I use 9 year old lettuce seed but that was an experiment on my part to see how long it would. Would hold for me now if you don't have a freezer you don't want to buy a freezer to dedicate to your seed storage I would suggest doing this if you're a market farmer and you're going through quantities of seed I probably go through I don't know maybe 20 or 30 pounds of CD year various crops of just vegetable seeing when I talk about corn and beans there's another Maybe 100 pounds of that so you know a small chest freezer is adequate for me and really what I kind of need if you're growing and you don't need that much seed and there are other ways of storing it too without refrigeration and one of the ways you can do that is by burying the seed take your seed in your seed packages put it in a 5 gallon bucket seal the 5 bout you know one bucket and bury it about 2 or 3 feet underground or you've got a nice steady soil temperature it's it's cool it's not freezing but it's cool and it's very very steady you're not getting big variations or get a little variation of a few degrees over a years time but it's not it's not changing dramatically if you put it in a and an upright chest freezer and you open and close that door you know how much the temperature changes in that in that and that upright freezer when you open that door it'll it'll change by 30 or 40 degrees it's still freezing inside you're going from 0 maybe to 32 degrees air temperature in there but that's a big range of shock just by opening the door so you want to limit the temperature shock so bearing it is one method of doing that if you've got a you know a root cellar or a cellar and your house it stays cool but at a very uniform temperature that's the place where you want to store your seed. Now I put mine when I harvest it it goes into freezer bags I keep most of my seed in ziploc freezer bags and I easily double bagged it when I put it in the freezer because I want it to be at 12 hrs less than 12 percent moisture but I want don't want to be hydrated either and sometimes in some environments in a freezer the air will get so dry that you'll actually dry the seed now on too far and I use double bagging system was a black bags for the most of my seed what I'll do is I'll take my 7 different broccoli varieties and I've got maybe a court size bag of seed for each of those varieties and all combine all of those into a gallon Ziploc bag or a 2 gallon Ziploc bag and have it sealed in by by Variety I've got my broccoli in the big bag and I've got my 7 varieties and smaller bags within that larger Bay and that that's typically how I do it I want to encourage you based on what I've shared with you to a save your own seed from the open pollinated varieties of cheese but also experiment a little bit I've had some fun doing this I've got a squash that I started growing. 8 years ago that I decided it might be kind of interesting to hybridize so I crossed an Amish neck pumpkin with a butternut squash and I produced this enormous I mean an enormous squash I you know I was growing I'm trying to Solomon market for a while and then I gave up selling in that market because they were just too big for people to use these things weighed 40 or 50 pounds but they were really cool because they had a really tiny little seed cavity at the base of it and the rest of it was all flesh and you could just slice it like salmon steak same as it was it was amazing and you know feed enormous numbers of people I carried this through the hybridization process of going to the 7th generation to make a new open pollinated variety and I had hoped to bring some of that seed to this conference here because this fall I harvested the F. 7 generation and it's just like F. 6 was but we had a really wet. Summer and Fall and West Virginia and while this crop was was was ripe ending it was dramatically overwatered and when I cut the 1st couple of them open to you know to eat a couple of. The flavor just wasn't very good and that they were nice they were bad but they weren't sweet the way they would have been if they had they dried down in a dry environment so I'm going to wait until next year just to make sure that I didn't pick up a genetic characteristics for it not tasting as good before I go for a start marketing but that's that's a new variety that we developed at Berea gardens and it was kind of fun doing it another one of my favorite squash plants is scarlet coach a coach of squashes as a Japanese winter squash and if you hadn't tried the scarlet coach of please give it a try it's amazing that is the most fabulous tasting squash I've ever had we typically just cut them in half and they they're orange and their fur that they look like a fairly small pumpkin. But the flavor is just just rich and wonderful and you know typically I like to put a little olive oil and maybe a little salt on the on my winter squash when I eat it this thing you just eat by itself you don't need anything on it it's marvelous and the skin is very light and can be eaten to it's awesome but it's a hybrid and one of the things that I've undertaken now is to get this thing through this 7 stage process 7 season process to see if I can come up with an open pollinated variety that has some of the desirable characteristics it's likely to look very different at the F. 3 stage with this thing right now and it's absolutely a modeled green color doesn't look anything like what the original hybrid. Seed seed produced the orange color. It's a modeled green similar shape similar texture and the texture too is important to me with squash the flavor is not quite as good as the F. one was but it's it's good enough is better than the open pollinated butter now which is what we kind of replace these things with in our diet and it's been a been very enjoyable to to eat so I've got 4 more years to go to see if I can get that to a state where it's an open pollinated for writing and that's an example of what can be done you know with with hybrid seed to this media was brought to you by audio 1st a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons leave a Visit W W W audio verse or.


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