Heirlooms forum: Growing & Saving Heirloom Seeds

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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 30, 2010 5:12 PM CST

Moderator

Heirlooms are open pollinated seed varieties.

This means you can save the seeds and grow the same plants from year to year and it will be a replica of the original plant that you grew.

It also means you can share the seeds with friends or trade them for new varieties of heirlooms to grow!

I have been growing a large variety of heirlooms for several years now and have learned to save many of the seeds along the way.

*Here we can*
♥Talk about the wonderful different heirlooms we grow
♥Share tips on saving seeds
♥Trade seeds with other fellow gardeners
♥Share tips on starting and growing our heirlooms
♥Learn about new varieties to grow in our gardens
♥Or whatever else you want to talk about heirloom seeds!


Pictured Proboscidea Devil's Claw - Paiute variety
Thumb of 2010-06-30/wildflowers/885b0d
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Stephanie
Fort Worth, TX (8a)
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Region: Texas Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Region: United States of America
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stephanietx
Jun 30, 2010 6:24 PM CST
Neat idea! Most of the heirlooms and OP plants I grow are veggies, but it's been a fun experiment and I find that the flavor is generally better than hybrid varieties.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 30, 2010 6:31 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks Stephanie.

I really like the idea of growing old fashioned varieties too. So many of the hybrid varieties either don't go to seed, the seeds are sterile or the plants revert back to other varieties and you don't know what you're getting! And like you say, the flavor just isn't there!!

And I try to steer clear of GMOs!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 7, 2011 6:54 PM CST
Thanks for this thread. I struggle with early fall rains (moldy seed heads) and few pollinators, but I heep trying.

Living in the Pacific NorthWet, I store my seeds (commerical, trade or saved) in sealed jars with silica gel dessicant. I try to avoid it being TOO dry by using a small amount of dessicant and not changing it often. I also have relative humidity indicator cards.

Also, the seeds themselves are inside plastic ziplocks inside the jars, so i fogiure that even if the dessicant dries out the air in the jar, it can only slowly suck the humidity out of the inside of the ziplocks.

At least this keeps the humidity from cycling up and down daily!

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
Dragonflies Herbs Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Composter Hummingbirder
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wildflowers
Sep 12, 2011 7:46 AM CST

Moderator

Hi Rick,

Thank you for posting about your method of storing seeds.

Sometimes I will put the seeds/heads in regular letter (paper) envelopes to make sure they dry out real good. I've been too anxious and put them in the plastic bags or jars before, too many times they just end up moldy because they weren't completely dry! Never thought about those little silica packs that come in so many things - I've been saving them to use for something LOL!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 12, 2011 3:55 PM CST
>> Sometimes I will put the seeds/heads in regular letter (paper) envelopes to make sure they dry out real good.

Me too. Either paper, or plastic with something propping the mouth open. That's one reason I like seed labels on little slips of paper I can move from tray to envelope to Ziploc. If the label is always with the seeds, they don't get confused as often.

I wonder how much power those little desiccant pellets have, after sitting in a plastic bag for months. The desiccant only helps if not yet exhausted, and being exposed to open air with any humidity exhausts them pretty quickly.

They need to be sealed into a small space to do a good job, and since everything leaks somewhat, they still need to be replaced yearly or more often.

I figure that mine get used up because I open and re-close each seed jar too often. As soon as I open the lid, the jar is filled with (humid) room air. Now, sealing it back up, the desiccant has to absorb and hold all the water I let in.

That's why I bought a pound of flower-drying silica gel and store it in tight jars. When it has all been used once, I'll spread it on a shallow pan and bake it at 225 - 250 degrees F in the oven for a few hours, then seal it tightly. Tyvek bags melt at 250 F. Color-indicating gels m ay be damaged above 250 F. Plain silica gel might be OK up to 300F.

One pound makes many coin envelopes with 1-2 tablespoons each. This has lasted me 3 years for 10 seed jars, without ever rege3neratiung any.

Now I use humidity-indicating cards and I think 30%-40% RH is a better humidity level than 10-20%.
I use less silica gel in each jar, and I make sure to open them at least every few months. Since the seeds are inside Ziplocs inside the jars, the seeds have less humidity variation than the air in the jar does.

But if some newsprint stored with your seed crinkles, it is probably dry enough!

[Last edited by RickCorey - Apr 18, 2013 2:08 PM (+)]
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Name: Curtis
West Plains MO (Zone 7a)
Region: Missouri
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curtsheirlooms
Apr 18, 2013 4:48 AM CST
I converted my whole garden this year to just heirlooms vegies Smiling Doing my best to get away from GMO junk Hurray!
Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. ;) Gardening takes a lot of work, but replenishes the soul.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Apr 18, 2013 6:57 AM CST

Moderator

That's great, Curtis!
Best wishes for a great heirloom garden this year.
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb


MtGypsy
Mar 6, 2014 12:18 AM CST
I had a neighbor give me a "Sweet Potato Squash" last year. I saved the seeds, and am hoping that they sprout! She says her great grandmother gave her some seeds and they always grow and taste the same, year after year. She says the original parent squash was grown over 100 years ago! I'd never heard of the squash, but did it taste great with a little butter and cinnamon. I save every anti-moisture packet and use them in my saved seeds, works great!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 6, 2014 1:26 PM CST
Welcome to ATP, MtGypsy!

I agree

I agree that keeping stored seeds extra-dry adds a lot to the time they stay viable.

Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, and other sources, say that the length of time that many seeds stay viable approximately doubles for every 10% reduction in their relative humidity (HOW dry they were dried and and kept).
Kew: theory of desiccants and RH
http://www.kew.org/ucm/groups/public/documents/document/ppco...


When the old silica gel packets lose their potency, you can buy more silica gel from any craft store with a flower-drying isle. I get a pound and a half for around $7.

I put about a tablespoonful in a coin envelope (folded stapled paper would do) and keep that in a tightly sealed plastic tub. Desiccants stay effective longer if kept in tightly-sealed containers. Otherwise they soak up their entire capacity from the atmosphere and can't absorb any more humidity.

Or automotive shops sell inexpensive "Oil-Sorb" or "Oil-Dry ( Bentonite clay containing Montmorillonite).
Or you can bake some dry rice at a low temperature NOT letting it get brown.
They say that dried milk powder is also a desiccant.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/649/Silica-Gel-for-Dr...

I'm working on an "Idea" about desiccants, but I need some photos before it's ready. here are some of the links I collected for it:

Kew Millennium Seed Bank Project, long-term seed storage containers:
http://www.kew.org/ucm/groups/public/documents/document/ppco...


Many Kew Royal Botanic Gardens "Technical Information Sheets" about collecting and storing seeds, written by Millennium Seed Bank staff:
http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/kew-in-depth/msbp/p...

P.S. If you like gadgets, you can buy humidity-indicating cards:

Drierite relative humidity cards at 40 cents each:
https://secure.drierite.com/catalog3/page15b.cfm

ULINE humidity cards, $18 / 100 cards
http://www.uline.com/BL_1002/Humidity-Indicator
http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-8028/Damage-Indicators...


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Name: Ric Sanders
Dover, Pa. (Zone 6b)
And his children Are his flowers ..
Region: Pennsylvania Dog Lover Cottage Gardener Ponds Garden Art Seed Starter
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Eric4home
May 26, 2014 6:38 AM CST
We join in a seed swap every Feb. with an online group, we usually have it at a restaurant in a small private room. It's always good fun the shed winter for a day and gather with friends and fellow gardeners. Many have heirlooms they have collected and share. The only heirloom I save and share is Limbaugh's Legacy Potato Top tomato. I usually ferment my seeds, and get a great germination rate using this method. We take turns hosting plant swaps in May and Sept. so quite a few heirloom plants get passed around at those meets also.
Talking about desiccants, couldn't you use water crystals to reduce moisture in your seed storage containers? I almost always have those on hand for my container soil mixes.
Ric of MAF @ DG
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 27, 2014 12:13 PM CST
>> couldn't you use water crystals to reduce moisture in your seed storage containers?

I don't know, I never researched those. They would have the advantage of having a HUGE capacity. But are they "strong" enough to pull humidity out of the air even at 20% RH? I'll try to research that, and also how to regenerate them (maybe just air-dry them? )

It would be good to have a cheap desiccant that would never over-dry seeds (below 15% RH) no matter how much you used.

Do you happen to know the chemical name of those "water crystals"?

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 27, 2014 12:40 PM CST
hydrogel
Superabsorbent polyacrylamide = cross-linked acrylic copolymer
starch-grafting: coat acrylonitrile polymer onto the backbone of starch molecules = “Super Slurper”
Polyacrylate/polyacrylamide copolymers for handling electrolytes & minerals and long term stability

I don't know. It sounds like there are many kinds of hydrogels, but I haven't seen "desiccant" listed as an application yet. Things like spill control, yes.

>> hydrogel crystals can absorb water vapor on days of high humidity

And some have been used to SENSE humidity, but it sounds like they only work above 40% RH.

http://iopscience.iop.org/0957-0233/18/10/S13;jsessionid=85C...
Experiment shows that the hydrogel-coated LPG sensor is highly sensitive between 38.9% and 100% RH,


Name: Ric Sanders
Dover, Pa. (Zone 6b)
And his children Are his flowers ..
Region: Pennsylvania Dog Lover Cottage Gardener Ponds Garden Art Seed Starter
Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Butterflies Birds Greenhouse Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Eric4home
May 27, 2014 5:41 PM CST
So it probably would not be an effective desiccant if you want it to work to 15%.
Ric of MAF @ DG
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 27, 2014 5:58 PM CST
That's what I'm guessing from a first quick scan, but my guess is that SOME variety of hydrogel exists that has a stronger affinity for water. It just isn't a mainstream commercial product.

The agro varieties need to "let go easily" so they don't steal water from the plants.

Probably the ideal "medium strength" desiccant is Oil Dry (oil-absorbent Bentonite clay containing montmorillonite). Dave pointed it out, maybe during a podcast, and suggested looking for it in an Auto Supplies store or that isle of a big-box store. 40 pounds for $8, and you can regenerate it at 150F!

http://garden.org/blogs/view/RickCorey/

(I'm working that blog entry up to be an article, but I need photos first.)
Name: Imaeus
Dayton, ohio
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Imaeus
Jul 8, 2015 4:35 PM CST
Hello, I have this year around 6 to 8 First Generation Amish Paste and San Marzano tomato plants. A few actually have flowers opened and I really hope they produce fruit.

Has anyone ever actually had a successful harvest from this?

I followed directions that said the seeds had to be washed off and then needed to ferment in a little bit of water for about a week. So that the protective enzyme or whatever encasing it could be broken. That way you can have a proper germ rate.
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Jul 12, 2015 8:14 AM CST
Many people do ferment the tomato seeds to remove the germination inhibitors.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Jul 12, 2015 10:59 AM CST

Moderator

Fermenting the seeds is a way to try to mimic mother nature by breaking down the gel sac surrounding each seeds which, like Caroline said above, contain germination inhibitors but can also contain diseases.

Welcome! Imaeus, any tomatoes yet?:
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Ric Sanders
Dover, Pa. (Zone 6b)
And his children Are his flowers ..
Region: Pennsylvania Dog Lover Cottage Gardener Ponds Garden Art Seed Starter
Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Butterflies Birds Greenhouse Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Eric4home
Oct 19, 2015 9:30 AM CST
I have to come up with a plan for my heirloom tomatoes. I move them to another corner of the garden each year but have been plagued with blight. I may just give up for a few years and only grow VFNs in one area and let the remainder rest for 3-4 years. I'd love to be able to afford having my garden soil steam treated and start from scratch. I may resort to growing a few in containers. My heirloom beets seem to do well enough.
Ric of MAF @ DG
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Oct 19, 2015 11:59 AM CST
Eric4home said:I have to come up with a plan for my heirloom tomatoes. I move them to another corner of the garden each year but have been plagued with blight. I may just give up for a few years and only grow VFNs in one area and let the remainder rest for 3-4 years. I'd love to be able to afford having my garden soil steam treated and start from scratch. I may resort to growing a few in containers. My heirloom beets seem to do well enough.


Have you ever tried deep digging your tomato bed? Basically it is just turning over the soil but to a depth of 12-18 inches. It buries all the pathogens. Or at least that is the plan.

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