Welcome to the Mornington Peninsula Seed Savers Network. We meet on an informal basis minimum once a month and when the pressures on, twice a month for seed packaging, swapping, discussion and comradeship of like minded people dedicated to growing and distributing non hybrid viable seed.
We are listed with the Seed Savers Network / Preserving the genetic basis of tomorrow’s food.
Seed savers was based in Byron Bay but has recently dismantled realizing the need to “localize” seeds to their various areas. This now makes it all the more important to continue and expand the work done by the original creators Jude and Michael Fanton.
With handbooks and information available to explain what seed saving means the urgency to save varieties in the Mornington Peninsula becomes apparent and urgent.
For more information about seed savers or to order seeds contact the Gardens
Let's start saving seeds!
"All the flowers of all tomorrows - are in the seeds of today".
Simple outline of what's involved in saving seeds.
Choose heirloom non hybrid seeds. Plant in an area of garden where you are happy to have the plant go to seed - looks a bit untidy and may need staking. Put a note like "Seed Saving" on your plant so no-one tidies your plot. Choose the best specimens to collect seed from. Be aware that some species can cross pollinate Allow your plant to flower and be pollinated. Check seed pods regularly to see when seed is ready to be harvested. Either pick whole plant or just seeds and store in dry airy spot whilst seeds finish drying. Watch out for weevils or other bugs that can get into your seeds whilst drying or in storage... bean weevils are notorious for eating out dry seeds. Clean seeds and sort out the good ones from bad. Store in containers with the name of plant, date and location where seed collected and attributes. Test for viability before distribution....this could take a couple of seasons so you know you have good seed.
Artichokes - let heads grow till they go fluffy, seed can be easily pulled out. Self pollinating. Asparagus - small red berries - pick, mash and wash seed clean and dry. Can cross pollinate. Beans - leave pods on bush till they turn brown - pod bean seeds & dry. Self pollinating. Beetroot - don't choose plants that bolt the first year - pick and hang with paper bag over seed head - cross pollinates with silverbeet. Cabbage Brocoli Cauliflower Chinese Cabbage - as these all cross pollinate the best way to get pure seed is to cover the flower head with a gauze bag, taking it off every couple of days to brush the pollen around - once the seeds are ripe the whole plant can be cut and hung to dry in an old pillow case. Carrot - once the seed heads are mature they can be cut and dried in paper bags - cross pollinates. Celery - choose the last plant to flower for seed collection - can cross pollinate so just let one species flower at a time. Corn - wait till the kernels are fully ripened and shrivelled let the whole cob dry before removing seeds - cross pollinates so keep species separate. There are ways to prevent cross pollination. Cucumber - fruit should almost be rotten before you collect seed - collect, wash and dry. Cross pollinates easily. Cover all flowers and pollinate by hand. EggPlant - fruit has to be very ripe before being washed, cleaned and dried quickly. Can cross pollinate Kohlrabi - Cross pollinates easily although usually only one variety flowering at a time. Leek Onion Chives Shallots - all cross pollinate so need to be kept separate. Seed ready when the three sided pod starts to split and you can see small black seeds. Cut head and dry in paper bag. Lettuce - leave the seed on plant till you see fluffy head, then pull out and store in paper bag. Can cross pollinate so only let one species flower at a time. Melons - will cross pollinate with in their own family - hand pollination is best. Collect seed from ripe fruit and then place in water for a week to ferment, then clean, dry and store seeds. Mustard - Can cross pollinate, but it is not a commonly grown plant. Okra - when seed pod is ripe, cut away the flesh from the seed and dry in sun. Self Pollinating Parsnip - seed only viable for one year and cross pollinates readily. Peas - leave the pods on vine until they turn cream, pop out seeds and dry. Self pollinating Potatoes - are best grown from tubers. Radish - seeds formed in capsules which need to be a straw colour before picking, cut head and store in paper bags. Can cross pollinate with other radish species, but doesn't seem to matter. Rhubarb - easier to divide and not worth saving seed unless you know its not a hybrid. Silver Beet - can cross pollinate with beetroot, but it doesn't seem to matter if it crosses with other silver beet species as there are only a couple of commonly grown ones. Spinach - don't save seed from plants that bolt early. It does cross pollinate, but only few species grown, so it probably doesn't matter. Tomatoe - let fruit go squishy, squeeze out seeds, put in jar with water and let ferment for a few days, good seed will sink to the bottom. Wash and dry on paper towel. Doesn't cross pollinate easily. Turnip - readily cross pollinates with quite a few other species. Save seed from the best plants. Zucchini - need to be really ripe and starting to pale. Scoop seed out and ferment in a jar for a week, then wash, clean and dry seeds. Can cross pollinate so best to hand pollinate and label 2 or 3 fruits for seed saving.
Most plants that are self pollinating don't cross with other members of the same family and seed should be true to the parent plant.
Onion Seed Head
This is the seed head on a bunching onion. The three sided seed pod splits showing the tiny black irregular shaped seeds. At this stage the whole head is picked and dried in a paper bag. You can also use fabric bags made of thin materials or cardboard boxes. Once the heads have dried and seed is cleaned it will be stored in airtight containers with the name of the plant, the date seed collected, where and by whom. Any special features about the plant can also be noted. It is wise to test the germination of your seed before distributing it.
Broccoli, cabbages and cauliflowers have similar seed pods. This is an early variety of broccoli whose seed pods are ready for harvesting. The whole stem is picked and put in a big paper bag or old pillow case until all pods are dried. Then it is easy to rub the pods till the seeds are loosed, run through a sieve to clean out the stems etc. Because Broccoli, cabbages and cauliflowers cross pollinate it is best to have only one of the above flowering at a time.... could make for some interesting offspring!
Lettuce seed ready to collect
If you have never let a lettuce go to seed then this is what it looks like. First there is a head of yellow flowers and then the "thistle" type seed heads. When the heads look like those in pic (the fluffy ones) pinch off the individual head - you will know if you have good seed if there is a little grey plump seed attached to the "parachute". Put the little heads in a paper bag or recycled envelope and allow to dry in an airy place. Because the flowers mature at different times, you will be collecting seed over a couple of weeks. The seeds will drop off the bit of fluff and then you just winnow off the fluff n stuff and you have lettuce seed... name it and make sure you don't have more than one lettuce flowering at a time or you could have some interesting greens.