Two days ago on a one of my local seed saving groups one of our great members posted photos of her saved beans for seed that has lots of tiny holes in them..
Sadly she has a case of bean weevils in her pantry.. Photo from the net.. Thankfully it had only gotten to a small portion of her beans.. but it was a loss felt as it was a old Canadian heritage seed.
A couple years ago, I was processing my sunflower seeds and I had a odd plant that has much more black seed them my regular big ones did, and so I thought, neat o, I will see what the next generation looks like, I processed some for eating and some for seed.. and I should have checked those black seeds better, they had a good weight and they had flesh in them when I checked them, but they had a off taste to them.. I know better now, if the seed you are growing is to look a certain type, nothing wrong with checking to see if the new “different is good” but do not assume it.. often the one that breaks from the parent form is not going to be better then the mother genes.. Its rare for the daughters to out do proven parents.. it happens but its not common.
Needless to say, those that were saved for seed where of no use to me the next year other then for bird or rabbit food..
Today I was putting together some little packages of seeds of ten or more for the local seed gifting and swap tables and I reached for a bag that should have around 400 plus seeds and I knew just from the weight of the bag, we had a issue.
I opened the bag and felt the seeds, far to thin.. I signed and thought, ok, I will need to do a seed germ test to see what percent cured out as mature enough and how many did not.. ( I will do a post soon about running germination seed tests on old or saved seeds) and then I snapped them open and sighed..
Nothing.. they were not mature enough when harvested and so while they seem borderline when I did them.. time gave the truth.. which was NOPE..
Gratefully, I have some saved from 2014 and I can order more seeds from my favorite heritage seed houses.. but its a very good point.. much like the very reason that I recommend that when you have a good year a glut year on things in the gardens that produce your staples that you should put up a two year supply in the pantry..
I have to admit that for seeds I would recommend the same.. If you have certain crops that you count on, that are planted every year, its a good idea to always keep back extra seeds that are proven in your seed box’s.
Prime examples of why
- Bad saving year, In 2015, the rains would not let up and other then maybe 200 saved pea’s, I had mold issues.. if I did not have saved seed from 2014, I would have to buy pea seed for 2015
- Bugs, mold and critter loss.. you never know what can take out your seeds, one time I had a bag that I guess was to close to the catnip bag.. as it got taken out, ripped into and the tiny seeds scattered, if I had not had a second older seed saving of it could have been a real issue
- cross-breeding, sometimes you think you have saved pure seed but when you grow out, you find out that its been crossed, and if you did not save back a few things a year back or even two years back, you might have lost that seed..
Its worth noting just because you found it online or in a catalog one year, does not mean that you will be able to find it the next time you look for it.. if you have a favorite that you have got for years from a seed house, its a very good idea to learn how to save that type of seed so that if they suddenly do not carry it, you will still have it growing in your own garden.