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To Seed Save

05 Sep 2016

These plants will cross with their own kind (species)

So to save seed of these varieties there needs to be a distance sufficient to prevent insects from visiting for similar varieties. This is usually considered to be 3 kilometres.

Amaranthus hypochondriacusAmaranth Grain
Asparagus officinalisAsparagus
Beta vulgarisBeetroot
Beta vulgarisSilverbeet
Beta vulgarisSouthern European Spinach
Brassica oleracea (var. italic)Broccoli
Brassica oleracea (var. gemmifera)Brussels Sprouts
Brassica oleracea (var. capitata)Cabbage
Brassica oleracea (var. botrytis)Cauliflower
Brassica oleracea (var. acephala)Collards
Brassica oleracea (var. acephala)Kale
Brassica oleracea (var. gongylodes)Kohl Rabi
Capsicum annuumCapsicum
Capsicum annuumChilli
Daucus carotaCarrot
Apium graveolensCelery (var. dulce)
Cichorium intybusChicory
Brassica rapa (var. ruvo)Chinese Cabbage
Brassica rapa (var. rapifera)Turnip
Brassica napusSwede
Zea maysCorn
Cucumis sativusCucumber
Solanum melongenaEggplant
Cichori um endiviaEndive
Allium cepaOnion
Allium fistulosumShallots
Foeniculum vulgareFennel
Lagenaria sicerariaGourd
Cucurbita moschataGramma
Allium ampeloprasum (var. porrium)Leek
Brassica nigraBlack Mustard
Brassica junceaChinese Mustard
Brassica hirtaMustard Greens
Brassica juncea (var. japonica)Mizuna
Brassica junceaLeaf Mustard
Abelmoschus esculentusOkra
Cucumis meloRockmelon
Cucumis meloHoneydew
Cucumis meloMuskmelon
Petroselinum crispumParsley
Cucurbita maximaPumpkin
Raphanas sativusRadish
Rheum rhabarbarumRhubarb
Helianthus annuusSunflower
Citrullus lanatusWatermelon




These plants are unlikely to cross with their own kind (species)

So these are good species to collect if you or your neighbours are growing similar varieties, as bees and other pollinating insects are unlikely to interfere.

Dolichos lab labPoor Mans Bean
Phaseolus vulgaris (var. nanus)Bush Bean
Vicia fabaBroad Bean
Phaseolus lunatusLima Bean (Madagascar Bean)
Phaseolus vulgarisClimbing Bean
Phaseolus coccineusScarlet Runner Bean
Vigna unguiculata (var. sesquipedalis)Snake Bean
Basella albaCeylon Spinach
Momordica charantiaBitter Melon
Capsicum pubescensChilli Manzana
Cucurbita ficifoliaChilacayote
Trichasanthes auguineaGuada Bean
Lactuca sativaLettuce
Luffa aegypticaLuffa
Cryptotaenia japonicaMitsuba
Tetragonia tetragonioidesNew Zealand Spinach
Pisum sativumPea
Hibiscus sabdariffaRosella
Lycopersicon lycopersicumTomato


Techniques for harvesting seed

(A)   Store in a cool place in paper or cloth bags.  Do not store in tin or plastic.

(B)   Dry seeds in the sun by day or under a verandah and bring them in at night to prevent evening dew and attack by vermin.

(C)   Tag plants when sowing to collect seed from healthy plants.



As petals disappear the fleshy sepals contain the seed.  Gloves are recommended whilst removing the seed to avoid prickles.



As biennials treat beetroots like carrots or in warmer areas select and leave for the later flower stem.  In warmest areas beetroot may not go to seed.  Seed stalks may be collected when dried and sieved.



Carrots are biennial and go to seed in the second season.

In very cold areas roots are dug up.  They are best kept and stored in sand or sawdust and planted when frost is no longer expected.  In subtropical areas or where frost is not expected they may be planted again immediately with leaves removed to 20mm above the root. The reason for digging roots up is to select and only replant the best roots, which may be about 20%.

In spring stalks will appear.

Harvest timing is very helpful to achieve clean seed.  Seed heads can be picked when stalks are still looking a little green.  The seed will rub out without the stalks breaking in to the mix.

As seeds are hairy seed can be rubbed through mesh to break the hairs down.



Corn is wind pollinated and best results may be obtained by planting in blocks as wind may carry pollen away by blowing across single rows.  All corn will cross.  Several crops can be grown throughout the season by planting four weeks apart as long as quickest varieties are grown first (sweet corn) followed by a slower variety (maize).  Ensure that late side shoots are removed to prevent simultaneous pollinating.

If weather or vermin are a problem, harvesting can be done before cobs are fully dry on the plant.  Ensure husks are pealed back.  Husks can thus be used to hang cobs in clusters to ensure drying. Kernels must be completely dry to ensure safest and easiest removal by hand or mechanical device.  Save seed from at least 50 plants to ensure diversity..


Capsicum and Chillies

A quick way to extract seed especially of chilli is to blend at a slow speed and wash the separated pulp off with seeds sinking to the bottom.  Use gloves and an outdoor setting.  Dry on fine mesh and stir whilst drying.



These are amongst the hardest to isolate.  Different species will not cross though cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kale , broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards and kohl rabi are same species.  All need a winter before setting good seed and some benefit from a cold winter, like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and heading cabbage.

As seed pods dry harvest, rub the seeds pods and winnow out the pod remains.  Brussels sprouts can be encouraged by removing the top leaves and leaving a few sprouts in the middle of the stem for flowers and setting seed.

Mature cabbages may need a deep cross cut in the head to allow flowering head to emerge.



Select the best fruit from healthy plants.  Well ripened fruit can be grated or blended at low speed and washed so seed sinks to the bottom.  Do no soak seeds.  Spread seed and stir whilst drying.



Seed is produced in the second year.  Whilst many onions can be grown together only one per season should be allowed to flower.  Tall seed heads may need to be staked.  Harvested onions are replanted in spring.  Harvest each seed head as they dry.  Hang heads to further dry and rub out seed, blow away seed cases.



Tall seed heads produce numerous pods.  Stake if necessary, when dry hang under cover until ready and crush seed pods and sieve and winnow out seeds.


Beans and Peas

Pick pods as they dry or leave until the whole plant is finished.  Crush and rub out seeds sieve and winnow.



Distance 2km – insect pollinated.

Seeds are mature as the stem turns brown and the fruits sound hollow when tapped.  Scoop out seeds or collect when eating.  Wash them but do not soak them.  Dry and store.


Winter Squash and Pumpkins

There are four species which can be distinguished by the stems.  Take care to grow only one of each type with-in bee flight of 3km.

Cucurbita maxima, C. moschate, C.  pepo, C. mixta

Fruit is ready for picking when the stems are dry.  Eat the flesh, feed to animals or preserve.  Scoop out seeds and wash but do not soak them.  When rubbed over a mesh flesh will separate.  Clean mesh regularly.  Dry in the sun or under verandah and bring in at night.  Pumpkin seed is not dry when it appears dry on the outside so keep drying indoors and do not store in tin or plastic.


Button Squash and Zucchini

C. pepo group

These are eaten very young and small.  When allowed to grow to full size fruit needs another six weeks of healthy growing for seed to mature.  Keep plants to one mature fruit only as this is all the plant can sustain.  Fruits can be kept a few days after harvest then treat like pumpkins.  Scrape the seed out.  You can wash but no soak.  Dry and store in cloth or paper.



Distance 3m self pollinating.

Heading lettuce may need help by cutting the heads to allow flower stems to emerge – open leaf will not.

As the yellow flowers turn fluffy white, seeds are mature.  Cut the whole stem when about two thirds are ready.  Hang for five days to allow sap to dry out.  Then rub by hand or through mesh.  The stems are still green and flexible and will not break into the seed.

Ripe seeds are heavy and white fluff and flower bract will blow off.



Distance 500m insect pollinated.

When mature green ones turn yellow/brown, white ones turn yellow.  Fruit can be kept a short time before cleaning.  Seed can be scooped into a container of water and allowed to ferment for three to five days, stirring each day.  The jelly around the seed will ferment and the ripe seed will sink. Float off fruit flesh several times, then, seed can be washed thoroughly through a sieve until the jelly is gone.  Dry on a mesh and stir regularly to prevent them sticking together.  Bring inside at night.



Distance 3m self pollinating.

Once a Tomato is ripe then so are the seeds mature.

It is best when saving seed to let the tomatoes over ripen on the bush – but start the process as soon as any damage appears.

Tomato seeds have a jelly around the seeds which makes them difficult to handle and acts as an inhibitor to germination until it is rotted away. Most seeds savers squash tomatoes into a container and mix with water to ferment for a few days (3 to 5) in a warm spot (a sunny verandah is suitable).

The more the mixture is stirred the better the process and the more the seeds sink to the bottom.

When ready the container can be filled with water.

The heavier seeds will mostly be in the bottom so fermented flesh and skin can be gently tipped off.

Repeat this process several times until the seed is separated.

Seed is best placed on a screen of fly-wire and placed in a sunny spot to dry for several days.

Stir whilst drying to reduce damp spots and prevent them from sticking together.

Bring seeds in every night or rodents may eat the seed and the night air keep them damp overnight.

To store in a cool dry place (once seed is dry enough) in an air-tight container in the fridge crisper. You will thus achieve years of viable storage.



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