Seed Saving & the Karma Seed Library
By Kim Stemshorn and General Manager (October 2020)
Seed saving is a great way to save on the cost of purchasing new seeds each year and to grow a variety that you know you have enjoyed and loved. If you have an existing garden, seed saving will just take a little bit more effort!
Choose an easy to seed plant
Saving certain types of fruit and vegetables is easier than saving others. Easier seed savers include: peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers. You may have already accidentally seeded from some of these before by allowing your plants to bolt. (Bolting occurs when a plant begins to flower and set seed too early.) These plants are naturally doing the work for you!
Avoid harvesting fruits that may have been cross pollinated
Cross-pollination can be hard to avoid in small spaces, but some measures you can take include only planting one variety of tomatoes, for instance. Some gardeners intentionally cross-pollinate to create a hybrid fruit. Cross-pollination will only occur with plants of the same plant family.
Choose the first fruits to ripen each year
Let the fruit ripen or even over-ripen, as the seeds of unripened fruit may not have formed the protective coat around the seed and the seeds will not be able to grow into a new plant. Fruits can be left to ripen on or off the plant.
Harvest and dry the seeds
Harvested seeds must be dried out. There are different methods depending on the type of fruit you are trying to save. When drying out the seeds, choose a location away from direct sunlight.
Storing Seeds in a cool, dry place
When storing the seeds keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, such as the freezer or fridge. Seeds in good condition will last at least one year, but shelf life of seeds may vary. It is important to label and date the seeds when storing them to ensure freshness.
As of this spring, Karma began offering a seed library for members, where seeds can be “borrowed” for free and members are encouraged to “return” seeds saved in the fall. If you’d like to contribute to the Karma Seed Library, drop off any seeds you’d like to share in the marked box underneath the members’ table. Make sure they’re labelled with the variety and the date they were saved. If you’d like to package them individually, that’s helpful. While individual packaging is not necessary, consider upcycling envelopes with this origami envelope.