The first step is to make sure that the crop you are interested in saving seeds from is not a hybrid plant, but rather a one that is open-pollinated. This is because hybrids do not “come true” from the saved seeds from each generation to the next the same way the open-pollinated seeds do. Ken Green of the Hudson Valley Seed Library says that the best way to start is with something small and easy such as crops with a perfect flower and a pod, take beans and peas for example. Perfect flowers are plants with both stamens and pistils (male and female parts). Examples of these plants are lettuce, tomatoes, and beans. Imperfect ones are plants where the crop has separate male and female flowers, such as squash and cucumbers, making them not quite as easy to save the seeds as the plants with perfect flowers.
Ken recommends that beginning seed-savers try out saving the seeds of easy crops such as bush beans, because they do not cross pollinate as much as pole beans. As well as peas, as long as you make sure to leave a few pods to dry on the vine, and cilantro or tomatoes.
The key is to prevent cross pollination from occurring because that can have a great impact on your crops. Kens example of this is “the offspring of a sweet pepper may not be so sweet next year if a hot pepper’s nearby”, one way to prevent this from occurring is to just grow one type of crop to “be sure that your seed will be pure”. If you aren’t willing to grow only one type of plant or are not able to isolate different varieties from each other you might want to consider growing one from each of the following groups in order to minimize cross-pollination
- Mixta: Cushaw types, some gourds
- Moschata: ‘Butternut,’ Cheese types
- Pepo: ‘Acorn,’ Field Pumpkin, Crookneck, Scallop and Zucchini types.
- Happy Seed Saving!
All of the above information has come from the following article: http://awaytogarden.com/thinking-about-saving-seeds-with-ken-greene
Images from: thrivefarm.wordpress.com, commons.wikimedia.org