Saving seeds: Gardening on the cheap
Want to save money in the garden? Save seeds from your garden instead of buying them, or buying plants.
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Better advice is to save seeds from open-pollinated plants (OPs), varieties from stable breeding lines whose seed will produce plants that are very like their parents.Skip to next paragraph
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No one agrees on how old a variety must be to be called an “heirloom” — before 1900, before World War II, before 1951 — but everyone agrees that heirlooms are always OPs.
One other warning about saving seeds: Some plants -- such as corn, squash, and pumpkin -- cross-pollinate enthusiastically with other plants, so their seeds rarely “come true.”
Seeds saved from ‘Ashworth’ sweet corn that was grown side-by-side with ‘Lady Finger’ popcorn is unlikely to produce sweet corn that you’ll want to eat, even though both are OPs,
These seeds are easy to save
Vegetable gardeners will have the best luck saving seeds from nonhybrid beans, lettuces, peas, peppers, and tomatoes -- plants that are less likely to cross-pollinate.
Good flowers for novice seed savers are calendulas, cosmos, corn poppies, lupines, French marigolds, snapdragons, stocks, and zinnias.
Economy is only one reason to save seeds and to grow OP and heirloom varieties. It makes you a part of the worldwide movement to keep endangered plant varieties alive.
Before long you’ll paste a I LOVE ANTIQUES (with a picture of a tomato) on your car bumper. And maybe become another Diane Linsley, the founder of Diane’s Flower Seeds, and turn your seed saving into a business as she did.
Editor's Note: Karan's next post will explain all you need to know about the how-to of seed saving. We'll post the link here when it's online, or just check back to the Monitor's Diggin' It blog over the next week or so.
Karan Davis Cutler blogs regularly at Diggin’ It. To read more, click here. She's a former magazine editor and newspaper columnist and the author of scores of garden articles and more than a dozen books, including “Burpee - The Complete Flower Gardener” and “Herb Gardening for Dummies.” Karan now struggles to garden in the unyieldingly dense clay of Addison County, Vt., on the shore of Lake Champlain, where she is working on a book about gardening to attract birds and other wildlife.