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Seed Saving – What You Can Save

On saving your own SEED

Some gardeners like having a shot at something new — seed saving, for example. Those who have not hitherto experimented in this direction might like to try it out. But it is well that they should know that while a few kinds of vegetable seeds can safely be saved by the amateur, others are best left to the experts.

You know that all flowering plants need pollen to fertilise the female part of the plant, so that it can produce seed. Some plants are fertilised by their own pollen, while others have to get it from another plant.

Broadly, those that fertilise themselves are “safe” ; those that need pollen from another plant should be left to the professional seed grower. Why ? Well, you may be growing, say, a cabbage for seed in your garden, while another gardener not far away may be growing a Brussels sprout plant for seed. The wind or the bees may bring pollen from your neighbour’s plant to your own—and your plants next year would be an unbelievable mixture, yet would be useless to you.

Now, if that were to happen in your garden, how much more serious would it be if you were to allow one of your cabbages to flower and produce seed near a commercial grower’s field of Brussels sprouts growing for seed. It might cause immense trouble and ruin the quality of his seed.

The only “safe” vegetables for seed-saving purposes are peas, beans of all kinds, onions, leeks, tomatoes, lettuce, ridge cucumbers and marrows.

There is a supplementary Dig for Victory advice leaflet on Saving Your Own Seed

Now is the time to mark the plants you intend to save. The best and easiest way is to tie a label on part of your rows of peas and beans and leave all the pods on the plants in that section for seed. Don’t pick any at all for the kitchen. So often gardeners leave the last few pods on their plants. These are usually small, weakly pods and do not give really good seed.