Make Seed Saving Easier By Choosing The Right Seed For Your Climate

This is the third post in the What seeds should you save series.

During this series, you’ve been choosing the seeds to save based on what you need for your farm. Not all seeds will grow equally well on your farm. Focusing on the seeds that do best in your climate will increase your seed saving success and make you much more inclined to keep saving seeds!

In this post, you will see how the heat and dryness of your growing season influence the crops that will thrive on your farm. You will see what crop choices make sense for Tourne-Sol’s humid Northern climate. And then I’ll give you some suggestions on how to change your climate to broaden your options

How Dry Is Your Climate?

Rain and ambient humidity can cause havoc on a seed crop. They can result in diseases and seeds germinating on the plant.

If you farm in a dry climate, you can harvest high quality seed from just about any crops.

If you farm in a wet climate, then you need to choose the seed you will save carefully. To do that, you should be aware of two ways that seeds grow on plants.

  • Plants with naked seeds. These seeds grow unprotected on a plant and are completely exposed to the weather. Cilantro and dill are examples you may have seen in your garden. Plants with naked seeds are very susceptible to germinating on plants or diseases. They are not a great fit for wet climates.
  • Plants with protected seeds. Seeds that grow in pods or in fruits are not exposed to the weather. These are a good choice for wet climates.

How Hot Is Your Climate?

All plants have an optimal temperature range for pollination, fertilisation and early seed development.

There are three broad temperature ranges to be aware of

  • Cool Season (16C – 24C)
  • Warm Season (26C-29C)
  • Hot Season (27C – 33C)

If your plants are not growing in the right temperature range when these vital biological processes should occur, you will likely be harvesting a reduced amount of seed. In some cases, there might not be any seed at all!

Please note, that it is the initial seed development stages when temperature is most important. Once your plants have started to develop their seeds, these developing seeds can tolerate warmer temperatures to grow and mature.

Different Seeds Grow Best In Different Climates

Crops in blue can be grown in WET & DRY climates

Crops in yellow grow much better in DRY climates

This table is based on the information presented in
Chapter 15: Seed Crop Climates of The Organic Seed Grower by John Navasio.

What We Grow At Tourne-Sol

At Tourne-Sol farm, we have a warm spring and a hot summer. We also have lots of moisture. Moisture that comes as rain, rain, and more rain; but even in drought years, the ambient humidity will often be close close to 100%.

We have the most success with protected dry-seeded and wet-seeded crops. Specifically crops that can set seed in a warm spring and tolerate hot summers; and crops that can set seed in hot summers.

These are the crops that we focus on

  • Tomato, peppers, and eggplants
  • Squash (summer and winter), cucumbers, melons, and water melons
  • Brassica rapa, Brassica juncea, and arugula
  • Radishes
  • Kale
  • Beans and peas

We do grow more than just these crops, but these are the crops for which we dedicate the most growing space.

Can You Change Your Climate?

Yes, you can.

Growing seed crops in greenhouses and caterpillar tunnels will let you have dryer and warmer growing areas. (I have a whole series on building caterpillar tunnels – almost 10 years old but still relevant!)

This is perfect if you are in a humid climate and you want to grow more naked-seeded crops. Or if you are in a cool-season area and you want to grow more warm/hot season crops.

We grow our lettuce seed crops in protected areas, and the yield and quality have really increased since when we used to grow seed in the open field.

What Will You Grow In Your Climate?

Now it is your turn to think about what will grow best in your climate?

Look at the chart presented above and determine what crops fit best in your growing climate.

Now, review your seed saving list and see what crops are in those categories, these are the crops that will be easier to grow. You should focus on mastering these crops first since you will likely have weather working with you instead of against you.

You can come back to the other crops on your list when you have mastered the crops suited to your environment and you are ready to take the next step!

I would love to hear from you about what seeds you plan on saving this summer!. Please leave a note in the comments, if you know what you will be growing!

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