Keith Fuller: Save seeds to protect your favorite vegetable varieties

Recently, I watched a documentary program that focused on the numerous varieties of vegetables that have gone extinct. Some vegetable varieties of squash, peppers and melons shown in photos from a century ago no longer exist, and with some vegetables, over 90 percent of the varieties that once existed are now extinct.


Many people gravitate to growing heirloom vegetable varieties because they like the continuity of knowing the plant or perhaps the taste of the variety. Modern day plant breeders often have a different perspective because they are looking for pest resistance, storage life and high yields.

If you harvest an item from your garden that you really like this spring, you may want to preserve some seed from it to grow in the future and to help preserve the variety. Saving seed is easy to do and worth doing if they are stored properly.

To save the seed of most fruits and vegetables, simply wash the seeds so they are free of pulp or any meat of the fruit.

Strain the cleansed seeds to remove excess water then blot them on paper towels.

The seed can be allowed to air dry for a day or two and then placed in a dry paper towel. Place the towel with the seeds in an airtight container and store it in your refrigerator.

Under cold storage, certain seeds can last for years while others last for decades. The added benefit of saving seeds is that you will save money. If you have old seed, you can make sure they are still viable before spending time seeding them out and tending to them.

To do a germination test, place the seeds in a damp paper towel and place in a jar or plastic bag. Viable seeds of most plants will germinate in several days.

Preserve your garden favorites by being a curator of their seeds.

You may find that after several years you can no longer find that variety for sale. This should help you realize how trendy the gardening scene can be.