Saving your vegetable seeds? What a terrific and economically sound plan. And what pleasures there are both in the act of saving your own heritage “brands” of vegetables, but also in knowing that you have taken one step closer to self-sustainability as a gardener. However, there are a few pitfalls which need to be avoided.
Beets, for example, need to overwinter to produce seeds which means that in the second year, as the plants grow back up from the root they will produce a flowering plant different from appearance than the beet which you are used to seeing in the garden.
These plants must be pollinated, and generally they are wind pollinated as well as insect pollinated. Two different cultivars can cross breed, a Chioga or Golden beet with a deep scarlet Bulls Blood for example and the result may be less than desirable. Save only ONE variety of beet seed; they will be viable for at least 5 years if properly stored.
Next year, you can save the seeds from the golden beet and so forth.
A similar caution prevails with Swiss chard. Did you grow both Fordhook Giant and Rainbow chard? Only save one variety for seed. They will cross just like beets.
And to further muddy the waters keep this in mind. Both beets and chard are varieties of Beta vulgaris. Beets are grown for their roots, and chard for their leaves.
Chard and beets will cross, generally with highly unsatisfactory results.
But there is a really simple solution, just keep a garden journal and label your saved seeds, and you will always know when it is time to save one variety and introduce the other to the compost heap. In this way you will soon achieve nearly 100% seed independence.
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