Seed saving 101

Choosing crops to grow for seed

It's very easy to save seed from self-pollinating crops such as tomatoes and tomatillos (the Solanaceae family), peas and beans (Fabaceae), and sunflowers. Cross-pollinating crops are trickier as they require isolation to prevent interbreeding, or larger population sizes to capture all the diversity within a single variety. See the resources below for more information.

Links to online seed saving resources

  • A Seed Saving Guide for Gardeners and Farmers - downloadable/printable 30 page PDF (15 pages printed both sides) by the Organic Seed Alliance. While organic standards are not critical (and may even be a hindrance to) the preservation of genetic diversity in our food crops, this is hands-down the best reference for seed savers (beginning to advanced).
  • Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook - quick reference including mode of fertilization, isolation, when and how to save seeds, and how long seeds will last. Includes some uncommonly cultivated varieties such as amaranth, gourds, lambs quarters, and sorghum. Does not include information on minimum population size for genetic maintenance of varieties within a species.
  • A Guide to 
    Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship 
    & Seed Sovereignty - downloadable/printable 40 page PDF (11 pages printed both sides) from the 
    Seed Ambassadors Project. Some good information, although we don't consider corn to be an "easy" crop for seed saving. (Download this version if you wish to print on both sides of a page and have a long-reach stapler.)
  • The International Seed Saving Institute's Basic Seed Saving - a multi-page online guide taken from an earlier edition of Bill McDorman's book Basic Seed Saving. The hard copy (2nd edition) is available in the Native Seeds/SEARCH Retail Store and can be purchased online here).
  • Saving Our Seeds - by Jeff McCormack, founder of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. While not a comprehensive site, Jeff offers many useful resources.