What Seed Should You Save?

After reading a few Going To Seed posts, you’ve decided “I want to be a seed saver!”

But wait, there are so many seeds out there.

What seed should you save?

Let me guide you through a reflection and evaluation process to determine what seeds to save. Over the next couple of posts I will explore different aspects of how to build your seed to save list, and choose your first seed crop.

Start With The Varieties You Already Grow

The best starting spot is seed of the varieties you already grow.

These are varieties with which that you’ve already begun a relationship. You grow them because they grow well for you or you you love how they taste. These traits make these valuable seeds for you to save.

Now, for which of the varieties that you are growing; should you save the seed?

You will need to get some some information together to better make that decision.

Compile Your Seed Orders

Go and get all your seed orders for the year and enter them all into one spreadsheet.

Here is a seed order template that I use to compile our seed orders.

Make sure your compiled seed order has the following columns

  • whether the seed is hybrid or open pollinated (this should be noted in the seed catalog)
  • whether the seed is organic or not (also in the seed catalog)
  • the total cost of the seed.

(These columns are already included in my seed order template.)

Sort Your List by OP vs F1

Once all your seed orders are compiled use the sort function on your spreadsheet to sort the OP/F1 column.

Open Pollinated (OP) varieties are stable varieties that breed true to type. If you save seeds from these varieties while respecting the appropriate isolation distances, you will get the same variety you started with.

Hybrid Seeds (F1) are created by crossing two plant lines. If you save their seed, you will NOT get the variety you started with. You will get an explosion of diversity.

If you are looking to save a reliable variety, only save seeds from OP varieties.

Now what OP seed should you save?

What Seeds Are Often Unavailable?

Look over your list of OP varieties and use the notes column to record any concerns you might have about whether a variety will be available in coming years.

  • Is this variety often sold out or back ordered?
  • Have you heard rumours (or facts!) about this variety being phased out or dropped.

Saving these seeds will mean you no longer have to rely on a seed company having your varieties in stock.

Homework 1

Start your seed saving wish list by adding 3 varieties that you fear won’t be reliably available in future years.

Please share one of those varieties in the comments section!

The next post in the series is on how to Reduce Your Seed Bill By Saving Seeds.

3 thoughts on “What Seed Should You Save?

  1. What has happened to Golden Cayenne? Can’t find seeds for it from any reputable seed dealer this year.

    I’ve sprinkled it in with my jalapenos for my chefs and they have loved it.

    Since we’re all about the seed saving, I asked Roughwood Table to give me Yellow Hinkelhatz to grow out and I’m going to try that one with my chefs. After the Hinkelhatz came in, a friend found 27 Yellow Cayenne seeds in his stash, so if the chefs hate Hinkelhatz (gosh, I hope not! 😉 ), then I’m growing out and saving the Yellow Cayenne.

    What distances do people like for hot peppers for seed?

    1. Hot Peppers are a great crop for seed saving. Commercial seed growers often aim for 600ft between pepper varieties. If the seed is just for yourself, you can grow them much closer without seeing too much crossing. Any accidental offtypes will be edible!

      You could also grow the seed plants under row cover. Since peppers are predominantly self pollinating, you don’t need insects to pollinate.

      Good luck with Golden Cayenne!

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