The Sustainable Table: Saving Seeds

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — You might think the process of getting your garden started began months ago when you put those first plants in the ground. Master gardeners, though, say the key to a great harvest begins now. They want you to gather seeds from the plants in your garden — vegetables or flowers. It’s a practice called seed saving.

“It’s nothing new; it’s been going on for thousands of years all over the world,” said Tal Blankenship, a master gardener certified through the OSU Extension Service.

In this part of the world, a lot of farmers rely on massive corporations for cheap and easy seeds. Blankenship says there’s a downside to getting them from a packet instead of your own plants.

“Most of the seeds that people are buying today are hybrids,” he explained. “Hybrid seeds, you can grow and you’ll get a wonderful plant from the seed like it says. But if you save that hybrid seed and you plant it, you won’t get the same thing. You’ll get one of the two parents.”

An obvious benefit of saving seeds is the cost: there is none. Your effort also has a payoff.

“If you start saving your own garden seed, the biggest advantage is if you start planting that seed every year, within four to five years, that seed or that plant will be adapted to your site,” Blankenship said. “The seed that you’ve dried, stored and sowed — you will take care of that plant better than any other plant in your garden because you are part of that process.”

Check out these links for more information about how to save seeds and how to dry them properly.


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  1. Glenda says:

    Is it possible to get seeds that have been saved? I’ll be starting my first garden next spring. I sure don’t want hybrid seeds.

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