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How to Save Seed

Today’s abundance of delicious food is due to our ancestor’s ability to select and save the best seeds. Today, saving seed is more important than ever. By saving and sharing seeds from your garden favorites, you can participate in this sustainable tradition of preserving seed diversity while saving money and growing vegetables that adapt and thrive under your local garden conditions.

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How to get started with seed saving

Select seed from open-pollinated plants, which include self-pollinating and heirloom varieties.

Do NOT save seed from hybrids, which are produced by a controlled method of pollination where two different species or varieties are crossed to breed a particular trait. Seed saved from hybrid varieties will not breed true in the next generation.

Determine if you need to isolate plants to avoid cross-pollination.
For best results, don't plant open-pollinating plants like cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkins, and gourds near other varieties of the same species unless you isolate them from cross-pollinating with other varieties. Summer squash, pumpkins, gourds, and some winter squash belong to the same species. When these varieties cross-pollinate, this often results in inferior flavor and other undesirable characteristics.

Start with easy-to-save self-pollinating plants:
• Lettuce
• Tomatoes
• Beans
• Peas
• Peppers - Peppers self-pollinate but are also likely to be insect pollinated. Isolate hot peppers from sweet peppers. 
• Endive and escarole
(see "How to harvest seed from specific plants")

• Choose seeds from the most vigorous and best tasting plants. Do not save seed from weak plants.

• Allow seeds to mature on the plant for as long as possible.

• Store seeds properly to keep them viable.