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Seed Saving for Beginners
Open-pollinated varieties will grow true to type when randomly mated within their own variety. Seed saved from these plants will breed true, provided the plants have been properly isolated from different varieties of the same species.
Hybrid varieties are those produced from the crossing of two different inbred lines. Seed saved from hybrid varieties will not breed true in the next generation.
Amongst open-pollinated plants, self-pollinated (selfers) usually reproduce by using their own pollen. Crossers usually reproduce through the transfer of pollen from one plant to a different plant of the same species.
Botanical nomenclature goes from the general to the specific. Plants are classified into kinds by genus, species, and variety. In Cucurbita pepo Sweet Dumpling, Cucurbita is the genus, pepo is the species and Sweet Dumpling is the variety.
Keep your seed alive by storing it properly! Humidity and heat are the enemies of seed longevity. Humidity causes the quickest deterioration. Ideal moisture content for most seed is no more than 10-12% so store at low relative humidity. Optimum storage is in a sealed jar in a freezer or refrigerator. Failing that, the sum of temperature plus relative humidity where seed is kept should never exceed 100.
• Never store seed in a humid, warm or sunny spot.
• Don’t ever leave it in a greenhouse or hoophouse for even a few hours.
Most seed stored properly will last for several years. A few seeds are good for one year only, such as onions, parsnips, parsley, chives, shiso, scorzonera, Batavian endive, licorice, pennyroyal, St Johnswort, liatris, delphinium, larkspur, perennial phlox, and any seed that has been pelleted or hot-water treated. If in doubt, try germinating a sample of old seed in moist paper towels.
Seed Longevity for Herbs and Flowers
This information was hard to find. We have integrated results from several tables with our own first-hand knowledge drawn from testing old lots for germination. Seeds stored in less than ideal conditions will have shorter life spans. Plant name is followed by years.
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Waterville, ME 04903
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December 24, 25, 31 or January 1