August 15, 2019
By: Stephanie Loui
Seed saving is a vital part of a healthy garden ecosystem and with the season’s current heat, plants are going to seed quickly, dispersing to the wind to grow again! You can support this process by properly harvesting, sorting, and storing your favorite seed varieties. This is not only a way to save money, but also an important step in protecting biodiversity and growing the very best varieties for where you garden. You can also support local biodiversity by purchasing from seed companies like the Hawaiʻi Seed Growers Network!
Before saving seeds, determine the varieties you want to keep and consider where you will store them. Seeds hold their viability best in a cool, dry, dark environment so storage spaces such as a closet, refrigerator, or cooler are ideal. Consider adding extra drying elements such as silica gel or a dehumidifier for an optimal storage setting.
To harvest seeds, select your strongest, most robust plants. Gently separate seeds from flower petals and other plant parts to prevent moisture retention and molding. It is best to harvest over a sheet of paper or similar surface to prevent runaway seeds.
Sort seeds for best future germination rates. Avoid any seeds that appear moldy, undersized, or otherwise damaged. Ensure that you have also separated out any garden creatures that may munch your seeds, making them unusable. Look for tiny holes in seeds which many indicate that pests are already present.
Dry out seeds if needed, especially larger ones like squash, corn, and beans. Find a space with good air circulation for seeds to dry over the course of a few days. Consider pest barriers like netting to prevent rodents from scavenging your harvest - there are precious starches inside!
Store seeds in airtight glass jars in. You can purchase reusable desiccant dehumidifying devices to help ensure that seeds have minimal moisture exposure. Lastly, be sure to label and date your seeds for your next garden adventure!
Another way you can support local seed biodiversity is by shopping at your local garden store and purchasing local seeds. This year, the Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation ʻĀINA in Schools Program will be planting seeds courtesy of the Hawaiʻi Seed Growers Network, a statewide initiative that brings quality, local seeds to growers throughout Hawaiʻi. Learn more about your seed farmers here and join the growing network today!