Seed saving guidelines

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We have offered these guidelines for saving seed in order to ensure pure true to type seed that we may then offer to other gardeners and farmers, to grow out and increase our seed inventories to keep them genetically viable and on our table for future generations.
Here is a checklist of things that you need to know if you don't already:

  • Isolation distances are provided in a table below. Depending on how much space you have and your style of gardening or farming you may be able to grow only one species of a particular plant due to the possibility of cross pollination. There are ways around this such as bagging flowers or corn tassels, putting cages around pepper plants, delaying planting times. Whatever is required to prevent pollinators from spreading pollen to other same species plants which means you will have to hand pollinate those species that are not self pollinating. Please ask if you have any questions on this or the specific species you are growing.
  • Growing and planting healthy plants is essential, because healthy plants produce healthy seeds.
  • Select those plants that exhibit the traits that are most desirable to keep, such as plant vigor in less than ideal conditions, productivity, or the bush habit of a particular squash as an example.
  • Observation: In each Growout page's Growout log there are blank fields for you to record your observations throughout the growing season, including: Planting date, plant vigor, disease and pests, flowering times, quality of fruit, what the weather was doing in a particular year. All this provides us the knowledge about a particular variety that maybe we didnt know before. Maybe it did better in a drought year or postponed flowering or fruiting until the weather was more favorable, so keep track of even the unusual things that happen. It maybe something that we want to select for in the future. And record wether the seed you receive is crossed or not. Seed banks receive crossed seed all the time, and while we encourage an evaluation growout afterwards it's always possible that something could slip through. You can't be too careful!
  • The information you collect will be added to each plant's profile to increase our collective knowledge base. You will be credited with that knowledge. Exchangers will also collect and keep family histories that go with some seeds, or record the story of the journey a seed has taken to still be here.

Hand Pollinating,Bagging

Cross pollination is at its greatest risk between air pollinated varieties such as beets, chard, okra, spinach, any grasses, tree seeds and grains, such as corn. If isolation from other varieties is not possible then bagging may be needed. For pollinator pollinated plants usually can pollinate with a brush between flowers

Male or Female plants

  • Knettel
  • Spinach?
  • Yaupon- weeping vs straight


  • get wax paper with rubber band, nylon bag with draw string, or paper lunch sack stapled

Corn (Multiple pollinaters)

  • gather pollin from several corn tassels in bag.
  • sprinkle on tassles
  • can cover the tassel or the ear with bag and seal

Okra (self polllination)

  • bag flower in the evening before it opens
  • leave bagged 48 hours
  • flower will self pollinate
  • Remove bag

Seed Saving Examples

Let it dry

Summmer Squash and Gourds

  • let reach hard shell
  • let seeds cure in containers

Corn, Beans

  • let dry on the plant in the husk or pod if there are no predators. remove if there are predators
  • shuck, hull, shell after dry
  • grip and turn corn kernals off the cob
  • History: "Shucking" a red cob means you get to kiss anyone you want (euro?)

Let it rot/ferment


  • Take seeds and juice, leave in bowl
  • 3 days in summer 5 in winter
  • whisk to separate gel from seeds.
  • when you see the fruit flies circle its time to dry and save.


wait till they turn yellow with jellie on inside


just let it ripen or rot before harvest

Animal fermentation


  • Persimmons fed to deer
  • wash seeds from poop


  • Feed berries to chickens, turkeys
  • transplant sprouts from droppings




  • Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth
  • Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook