Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:
- The 10,000-year-old ritual of seed saving—an introduction.
- How to kick-start your own seed saving adventure!
- The 9 EASIEST crops to start saving seeds from.
- What’s at stake if you choose NOT to start savings seeds.
- How *massive* garden disasters can yield GOLD!
- 3 myths about hybrid seed varieties.
- How seed-saving has been overcomplicated! (It’s *not* that hard!)
- Connecting with seed exchanges & seed libraries.
About The Speaker:
Bill McDorman is Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.
He got his start in the bio-regional seed movement in 1979, when he helped start Garden City Seeds in Missoula, Montana. Since then, he has launched a successful mail-order seed company, authored the book Basic Seed Saving, and co-founded Seed School, a nationally-recognized weeklong training program that has graduated 800 students from around the world.
Bill is a passionate and knowledgeable presenter who inspires his audiences to connect deeply with the world they live in through the ancient tradition of seed saving.
QUESTION: Have you started saving seeds yet? Why or why not? What seeds have you saved to date? Are you planning to try saving anything new in 2017? Leave your thoughts below.
I save seeds from tatume squash, from cow peas, my father-in-laws tomatoes “Pop’s Porters” and Rio Grande Red corn…
I also save a bunch more but those are the ones I care the most about.
My purple hull cowpeas never seem to come true the next year. maybe they are crossing with the black-eyed peas, even though I grow these two across the garden from each other. However the butterbeans always come true. And the Sugarsnap peas seem to turn into like Wando sweet peas.
When does the seed saving lecture start? I am 15 min into the presentation and still just talk about none seed issues
Screen has gone blank and stopped the discussion This is the Bill McDorman video on saving seed
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I love to save back seeds from everything from food to tree cuttings to try to give them a start and see what happens…I’ve moved from my place at 4400 elevation to the desert outside Tucson and am trying to start my grapes off a huge plant I had…also some fig trees starts and of course I save lemon,papaya,I chop off the plant part of pineapples and sprout them and put them in dirt they r doing great…also so I have a drawer in bottom of refrigerator of all the native species I tend to hold back…there’s always room to green up the desert so I’ve planted Indian Rosewood 3 varieties of Eucalyptus,Chinese Elm,Acacia,African Sumac, 2 lovely evergreen one I forget the name the other is called Powder Puff…they are among some Mimosas and also star and angel wing jasmine…this comment leans toward propagation but I have both going on…I love nothing more it is my passion to plant,nurture,and enjoy as many varieties of beauty and useful benefits like shade on the west side to lower the house temperature…I loved his opening line of Sharing the EXCITEMENT..because that is also experience when I delve into the practise of seeds and starts…LOVE this Homesteading Summit so far have LOVED MEN over 40 years!!!
Hi Liz, wow you have really got it going on! I will pass your comments about MEN on to Hank WIll and the rest of the crew.
I think getting kids in schools and such to start to learn and appreciate the reasons for this the future may have a better chance but money typically wins regardless.
I believe working with kids through a breeding process/project so that they experience the entirety of the life process and results could be an eye opening aspect in many ways to some of their lives that likely would be difficult to obtain otherwise.
Get them involved in 4-H. Contact your local Master Gardeners programs through state university. They have Master Gardeners who volunteer in school and community garden programs. They are excellent resource. Love them here in Washington state.
Little glitch am losing you so far it’s audio only and then cuts out but the year one is always a test…good luck and keep growing!
Also planting the very useful MORINGS trees so far roof high in containers will put in ground in spring. ..good luck and keep growing!
Also planting the very useful MORINGA trees so far roof high in containers will put in ground in spring. I’m viewing these presentations on wifi but it’s hit and miss stop and go so far…good luck and keep growing!
Lis, I see you are having some audio and video troubles with the video! If you have a slower connection speed, try pausing and letting the video load a bit first and then playing it!
Lis – don’t know where you are but hubby did some searching and found that the Moringa tree is beneficial for diabeties type2, which I have ! I can only find capsules in a health food store around here 🙁
Check out http://echonet.org/ – they use, dispense info on Moringa all over the world.
Also Google Moringa and you should be able to find seed sources. They are really easy to grow.
Have never heard of Moringa benefiting Type 2 Diabetes, which I have, but for health reasons I usually eat about 1/4 cup of leaves daily on my salad or wrap at lunch.
Moringa seeds are available through Bountiful Gardens seed company, a fund raising arm for John Jeavons international Biodynamic training programs. They have a long season and a short viability, so when you get them, be ready to plant early indoors. I walked by a yard in Honolulu recently where the family had obviously had their moringa trees (also know as marungai or kratuk) for generations. The moringa stems were growing out of short trunks that had been pruned so many times that they looked gnarly. They are tough little trees, and every part is edible, tasty, nutritious. Jerome Ostentowski, whose presentation on high altitude cold climate greenhouse gardening referred to and showed his moringa several times.
I have begun saving seeds this year. So far I have saved seeds from greasy beans, sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos. I plan to save seed from the lettuce and kale I’m currently growing, as well as the other plants I grow next spring and summer.
Good information. I am a seed saver, I have been doing this for about two years. Have 30 acres to plant on in Ohio. May start a seed bank.
Penny – where in Ohio ? We’re in North Central Ohio 🙂
Finally came back and was able to finish. I am in the process of learning how to save seeds. This was very helpful. I am going to give this a try for next year, 2017. Loved this session.
Many summits are now doing a 48 hr view versus 24hrs. What say you?
lots of great information. The only thing that I was wondering that was not addressed was the best way to store seeds and at what point might seeds “go bad”?
Thanks for presentation.
I don’t know if there is a definitive answer to that question, as it depends on the seeds and how they were stored, and also the weather conditions when you are trying to germinate them. Last year I grew some fantastic lettuce from seeds that were seven years old, but this year I planted one year old seeds that totally flopped. I think it is best to let the seeds air dry thoroughly and then store them in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place. Try planting more than you think you will need, in case some of them do not grow. I have also heard that soaking seeds of questionable quality in water before planting them can help. I would not throw away any seeds, no matter how old they are. Just be prepared for the possibility that they might not grow well, and hope for the best.
Air tight storage would work if you are absolutely certain the seeds are dry. Companies that sell emergency seed bank products commonly pack with nitrogen in air tight containers and recommend that the seeds be used if possible within 3 to 5 years.I have have heard comments that some seeds will be more durable if left n a paper packet where they can breathe. My sister-in-law keeps seeds from Korean commercial seed companies in her freezer so that they will keep longer! My rule of thumb is to keep them where air circulation is good and temperatures remain fairly consistent but below 85F. Our weather weather can be extreme and quite variable, so I squeeze up and plant varieties that will take both hot/dry and wet/cool very year. I save seeds, so marking the year and adding a note about what the extremes were for that year can be helpful.
Thank you for this!! I saved some spaghetti squash seed and planted them this year on a whim. I almost felt guilty, like I was doing something wrong!!! Anyway, I had very small hopes they would grow, let alone flourish, but that did!! I’m so excited to save next season and start perpetuating my “cascade varieties ” ?? what a gift❤️
Wonderful presentation, I learned a lot. Wish we could have covered how to keep the seeds we saved (storing them).
Wonderful presentation, I learned a lot. Wish we could have covered how to keep the seeds we saved (storing them). I have saved crowder-stype peas, bush beans, lima beans, marigolds, cucumbers, tried peppers and tomatoes, but was just guessing at how to do it, now I am sure. I have also saved squash and corn (my popcorn got mixed up with regular corn… oops!!)sunflower seeds, radishes… I think that is it. The crowder peas and limas are by far my most successful here in AL. My volunteer tomatoes are very prolific as well.
Hi Debra, I’ll put that on the wishlist for the next Summit – the topic of how to best store seeds.
Hi Debra from a fellow Alabamian. I,too, save seeds here. Moisture (you know our humidity!)has been my biggest problem. Dark, dry, cool…..that’s my mantra! Been working well for me. Corn, beans, peas etc. Great summit so far Marjory! Thanks for hosting!
I enjoyed this webinar. You do not need to be an expert to save seeds.
I really enjoyed this seminar! It changed my view on Hybrid Tomatoes. I was always taught that hybrids do not reproduce. I look forward to next year growing my favorite tomato and then harvesting the seed! I am also excited about the prospect of growing my own grains.
I’m saving seeds for the first time this year .. tomato, bell and jalapeno peppers, beans, and zinnias. Very excited to see if I’m successful next year! I never thought about using local seeds, but Duh!!! Makes sense. Thank you so much.
Oh Good! I am glad this inspired you.
SAVING OUR SEED: What a great idea…..I travel on my job and bring back seeds from various States of India and distribute it to school children and teach them to grow it, since 2010 or so…..I encourage them to exchange seeds with their friends so as to keep the stock ‘alive’…..
Am I supposed to be able to see the presenter?
Howdy Keri! If you aren’t able to see the video at the top of the page, please try refreshing your browser window! Thank you!
I can’t get the thing to play at all! 🙁
Hi Carol, do you have an alternate browser you might try? Chrome or Firefox?
Yesterday I heard Bill speak at the Phx Great Seed Up!
Yes, he is a good teacher.
I have always been interested in saving seeds, but it looked so difficult and time consuming. Now I am a retired home gardener (YIPEE!), this presentation has showed me how it is possible to save seeds. Thanks so much!! MEN-you rock!!
This is very informative. I would like to know more specifics on how to save different seeds. Once you get the seeds from tomatoes, for instance, after you’ve rinsed and dried them, what’s the best way to actually store them?
From what little experience I have, the rule of thumb seems to be keeping them dry and cool. Storing them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid has worked great for me!
Kim, if you purchase the Summit package, the bonus videos that come with it have Bill showing you how to save tomato seeds (by fermenting them first).
So seed saving can be fun! I will save some seeds from my accidental butterkins, a moschata that came from neighboring Seminole pumpkins and Waltham butternuts. They gave us squash vine borer and squash bug resistant plants and fine, sweet, thick fleshed, ground-hog resistant pumpkins of varying shapes. (We did not grow butternut this year, so I can’t save the first hybridization seeds.)
After watching this seminar, I now know that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to save seeds! Good info!
Today after watching this video, I think I can save pepper and tomato seed! I will do so this afternoon. I wish there had been some discussion on how to store the seed and how long seed can be stored. Thanks.
Bill i have a small seed bank in ladakh, where i farm in the summers. i have with me now, several seeds from the navadanya/women’s alliance (whom i work with out there),
and would love to share these with you or anyone half-way serious about adapting these
for lower elevation farming.
as i have written for the seed bank, these are some of the oldest and purest, continuously open-pollinated seeds on the planet. they are grown in untampered pure soil and water, fed with himalayan glacial melt. please let me know if you are interested, i am leaving my contact stuff below.
im simpl, founder
Hi Bill, I live in northern Indiana and would like to try just a few (as in 3 seeds of various types to see what appears. my email is email@example.com. I have some saved tomato seeds, green peppers, hot peppers if you would like to trade? Thank You kindly. Linda
Wow! What a treasure trove!. I have read about permaculture communities in the Rockies and in the Alps and Scandanavia who would be profoundly enthusiastic about these seeds and their heritage. These people are participants on permies.com, the eminent permaculture forum site sponsored by Paul Wheaton, who is on the roster of speakers for this summit.
THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! Useful, factual, REAL information is so hard to find nowadays without first sifting through mountains of BS, cut n paste, $$$ motivated internet or even book print information. I have been cracking my head trying to understand seed saving, hybrids, heirlooms and such. This was so cut and dry I absorbed every bit of information without it hurting my head. Thank you so much for this it is worth GOLD to me.
Thank you so much for your kind words Marilyn. We work very hard to ensure the best quality content and production.
The moringa tree requires a warm climate. I grow it in northern Mexico. It should do well in the southern states. It is not frost tolerant, but may adapt.
I grow Morninga here in TX> It dies back in the winter with the first freeze, but comes back again in the spring. Actually I need to go harvest a bunch of leaves right now…
Great video, Key information for starters like me. Thank you!
Are the transcripts for each video interview available to those who do not have a lifetime pass?
Is the best way to save seeds is in the freezer?
Actually not in a freezer. To keep them in a freezer you really need to get them very dry first. But definitely the three rules for saving seeds are dark, dry, cool.
I can’t wait to save some seeds. I was afraid until this Webinar. Thanks
I was hoping to save some beans seeds, but we just had a frost. Is it too late to harvest the seeds? Does frost or freezing kill the seeds? Really loved this presenation…thank you!
I’m 25 minutes into this presentation….does he ever explain how to actually save seeds?
Yes, at the 28 minute mark. You’re almost there…
How long can you keep seeds and still have them be effective? I was told one-two growing seasons, but after watching Bill’s video I think it might be ‘a very long time’. Can you reply? Excellent video!
Lots of information. Thank you. I have never saved seeds. I will look into in the upcoming growing season.
great presentation..very informative..i’m ready to start saving seeds!
I saved seeds from avocado, red peppers, melons, paprika, all from the supermarket. These all grow pretty well indoors or outdoors in the summer. This year is the first time I put avocados in the earth outside and I wonder if they’ll survive the Dutch winter.
I purchase organic gourmet bean and legume seeds as food product. Can I hold back some of these seeds to use next year for planting in eastern Idaho? I just wonder if organic commercial seeds are pasteurized.
I am a “home” seed saver, it’s a passion of mine! (One of many!) Thanks so much for the good information regarding hybrid seed, too…. I was told that you could not use the seeds, that they would not grow….. ha! That opens up a big door for me! 🙂 Enjoyed the talk!
Hello all! Thank you so much for the wonderfully interactive conversations happening as a result of Bill’s webinar during the Summit. We are honored. As it turns out, Bill and I (Belle Starr, wife and partner) are getting ready to leave for the Philippines in two days to teach! We are being hosted by Friends of ENCA Farm. So we at least wanted to acknowledge all the great comments and questions but also wanted to let you know we just can’t get to the comments today cause we are swamped. So our highest hope is to tackle this perhaps while we are traveling. Thank you so much. We need you!!!
Informative….I was only able to get the audio in all of the sessions….
Howdy Ronna! That can either mean a slow connection speed or an incompatible browser. Do you have an alternate browser to view the videos on, like Chrome?
I’m saving yellow patty pan squash seeds which hybrid seeds. Let’s see what happens in 2017!
I also save tomato seeds and pole beans.
GOod luck AManda!
I have been saving seeds for a while, but usually forget to mark them well and then am reluctant to use up garden space, not knowing what I have planted there. Thanks for the good information about hybrids. I had always thought planting saved hybrid seeds would result in something barely edible. I am now looking forward to next spring to see what will come from the seeds of my over-wintering kale and mutant tomatoes. I would also like to try crossing some garden varieties with their wild counterparts, just to see what happens.
I often just allow certain plants to go to seed and the seeds regenerate into the soil for the next season & voile, new plants from self-seeders (especially lettuce & basil). This happens even though the soil is turned and compost is added for fertilization. Do live in a warm climate and have 2 growing seasons. Have started saving lettuce, tomato, pepper & basil. Seed saving small seeds (basil) can be very time intensive.
Could it be possible that seed companies are labelling GM seed as hybrids?
I am one of those people who want to save seeds but decided that it’s too hard. You have changed my mind and inspired me. It’s too late this growing season, but I’ll be ready next year.
This has been very informative and a encouragement for me.what he said about self pollinators, especially peppers, beans and peas is true. I did for a while save those and regrew them and they turned out very well. This has inspired me to pay better attention when I do grow them. Thanks!
The only thing mentioned that I disagree with was the idea that if you have a “failure” it doesn’t matter. Your implication is that it is somehow contributing to the fun and genetic pool. But if you are a small gardener, and used up your space for four tomato plants, but then get small, inferior eating or sauce tomatoes, for example, you may have just messed up your eating and canning for the year!
Loved this video. I’m as passionate about seed saving as Bill. Been a gardener for over 50 years and been saving seeds for almost as long. I love the idea of seed saving communities and how important this is to us all. I hope everybody watches this video and gets involved in seed saving and community.
Great topic! Encouraging! Thank you!
I’ve always saved my marigold seeds… Now i’m inspired to try to save more veggie seeds. Thank you for the inspiration and information!
Excellent presentation! I’ve started saving bean seeds (more than half a dozen varieties so far) with encouraging success. Also several garlic varieties and shallots, marigolds and nasturtiums. I planted millet this year and will try other non gluten grains. After this lecture, I’ll be saving tomato seeds next year. Thanks so much for demystifying seed saving.
I learned so much from this session. Thank you! A burning question is how do we store the seeds?
First two videos were great but I am having problems getting this one past the mother earth news intro. Refreshed my browser didn’t work. Any suggestions?
I apologize for that, Lynn! It sounds like a connection speed issue. Please try pausing the video and waiting a bit for it to load, then pressing play, and see if that helps!
Fantastic!!! I found my flock!! Thank you
This was very helpful! I plant only heirloom seeds and Am trying to learn to save seeds.
Wow – I loved this one so much!! He’s so inspirational and encouraging. If there is a way to get a copy of this, I’d love that. I’d love to use his presentation in a garden class or program, perhaps preceding some demonstration or a workshop in saving particular seeds.
When growing seeds provided through a library is there a way to identify those tainted by GMO’s?
I can’t get this presentation to play. It starts out and then freezes. I tried refreshing the page and the same thing happened. The other presentations played with no problems.
Hi Mearced, sorry about the video load issues! If you’ve got an unstable/slower internet connection, some times it can take longer than others for the video to download. Try pressing pause for a bit while it loads, and then press play!
I’ve been saving seeds for years and learned that if I saved seeds that I grew in my garden, in about 3-4 years I had plants that were acclimated to my area. I will have land again within the next couple of years and will be repeating this. Eventually, I hope to offer fruits, nuts and veggies to my local farmer’s markets.
LOVED this presentation! I’m inspired & just in time to save some seeds from my Better Bush tomato since we’re still having record high temps & no frost yet in Alabama.
Less of his history would be appreciated. That can all be in text intros. Same with the info on various people he introduced-great info but not really a need in a presentation on seed saving.
This presentation was so valuable in its practical explanation and clear explanation of the context and importance of scale, and beyond to the biological basics as it applies to saving seed. I am very greatful to have gleaned this information tonight. Don’t know if I’ll be able to access the video to see potential feedback tomorrow since it’s limited time video but just want to say I want to the mentioned seedlibraries.net resource, primarily supposing it would be an aid in finding the closest seed library to a given location (western Wisconsin for me for example) and was surprised to find no list or resource for actually finding already established libraries based on location. Or did I miss that. Surely some organization has made a point of helping folks locate their nearest seed library, so if anyone happens to know of such a resource pleas do tell!
Go to http://seedlibraries.net. Menu: Start A Seed Library / Sister Libraries
Also try https://rockymountainseeds.org/resources/seed-libraries/search-seed-libraries
Glad you enjoyed the presentation. Sorry for any confusion. Bill
Go to http://seedlibraries.net. Menu: Start A Seed Library / Sister Libraries
Also try https://rockymountainseeds.org/resources/seed-libraries/search-seed-libraries
Glad you enjoyed the presentation. Sorry for any confusion. Bill
I’ve saved my own seed for years but you can always learn something new – and i did listening to the webinar. I’m in NZ where our winters are quite mild – we plant broad(fava) beans in April and harvest them now. I planted all my old self saved ones – a real mixture in a patch that gets no sun for 3 months thinking they might be good for carbon. all grew really well so the ones that have produced the best beans will be saved! experiments do work and not always as we expect.
I have been saving some of my seeds and I gained so much more knowledge by listening to this seed saving seminar. Thank you so much for the information!
This is the link he refers to (home threshing/winnowing oats)
Sorry, but you can’t, or shouldn’t save seeds from hybrids – because many, and in some cases most (like carrots, beets some new corn and cucurbit varieties) have male pollen sterility bred in just to stop people saving their seeds. If they do produce seeds from cross pollination from your other open pollinated varieties in your garden you will still have the pollen sterility in your seed genetics – not something you want to do.
What about the possibility of cross-pollination with genetically engineered plants? How to avoid it?
For me it is very important to avoid using genetically modified plants. What are your thoughts about preventing such cross-pollination?
Also are we sure if seeds saved in seed libraries are not crossed with genetically modified seeds? Shouldn’t be there more control to find out which seeds are pure? As we know, genetically modified food can be really very harmful to people and animals who eat it.
I plant Russian Mammoth sunflowers annually all along the house for insulation. The plant reaches to the eaves or over them, and each has huge leaves and one very large head. I save some seeds for replanting, but I also sprout them for eating in a small raised bed for that purpose and harvest the sprouts when there are 2-4 leaves: pull’em up, pinch off the root & pop’em in my mouth. Talk about “fresh vegetables”! lol And Dr. Josh Axe says “eat dirt.”
I have been trying for over half a day to watch this video! Won’t play now at all. Play button will not respond at all. Am using Internet Explorer also tried on Firefox. Tried restarting my computer. Don’t know what else to do?
Bill’s approach to seed saving is terrific, and it is one of the easier adventures one can get into when gardening or even foraging. My Mom got me started on seed saving, one of the continuing adventures in a life spent roaming through a variety of climates, gardening and saving seed pretty much all the way. Now that I have stewardship of land in a completely new climate, it is “kid in a candy store” time every winter when looking for varieties that will or may work where I live now. The next step after self-pollinators has got to be the squash kingdom where cross-pollinating is epidemic, but not so hard to avoid with a few pointers. For a beautiful example of multi-generational plant breeding, take note of Hank Wills presentation on traditional and selective practices among corn farmers, a great pairing with Bill’s “Try it, you’ll love it” seed saving strategies.
This presentation might benefit from a better “truth in labeling” title. The first 15 minutes is about seed banks. The next section diffuses excuses to NOT save seeds. It is only at 25 minutes that he STARTS talking about self-pollinating plants for confident gardening. He STILL hasn’t gotten to “HOW TO” safe seeds. I’m actually going to tune out now in favor of other presentations.
look we aren’t here for back stories, we are here for knowledge, you have clients paying for this exactly. the story can come later.
People want the how to not the what I did before i got here.
So glad I didn’t pay for this. GET TO THE POINT, TIME IS VALUABLE!
we started saving our own seeds last year. This is a great program for the beginner. Lots of good information and really get’s you excited to save seeds. Thank you!