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Seed Saving database


In the heirloom forum, on the "SSE Members" thread, we talked a bit about making a database of seed saving techniques for various vegetables.

I know that there are a number of folks here who are very familiar with proper seed saving techniques for a variety of plants, so if we take on the plants we are most familiar with, I think we can have this thing compiled and ready fairly quickly, just in time for all the newbie OP growers out there to benefit from our experience.

I'm thinking that we model it after our Plants Database ( ). I can program this up fairly quickly and then all we have to do is enter the information in. It could end up being one of the most useful resources we have here.

Is everyone else still with me here? If I program this, who's willing to enter plants? Can you give a list of the plants that you are interested in writing about?


Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)


I database might work. But I don't think the way the plant database is set up is the way to go. Seed saving does not lend itself to the uniform categories format of the plant database. It's more of a descriptive how-to sort of thing.

Sometimes, seed size, shape, and color are important characteristics. And sometimes knowing how to separate the seeds from the fruit is important. And sometimes special treatment (i.e., fermentation) is needed. So all these things should be included in the write-ups as necessary. But to list them as categories would only result in a lot of blank spaces.

That's my 2cents, anyway.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)


How would you fit general techniques into the database? Take threshing, for instance. It doesn't make sense to repeat the instructions for each plant that requires threshing.

Maybe we could run basic technqies as a series of mini-faqs, under a single header. The entry would be Basic Technques or General Techniques, something like that. Then there would be separate entries for each technique discussed.


Good thoughts. We definitely can't fit these into generic labels like the Plants DB. I simply mentioned it as a rough reference, but the seed saver's db would obviously be very different from the plants DB.

I'm giving some thoughts as to how the database would be formatted, but what I'm looking for is hearing from individuals who are willing to write up information for the plants they are most familar with.

By the end of the day, I'll have a rough sketch of how the database might be laid out.


I gave this a lot of thought yesterday. Brook's last paragraph makes the most sense.

We can setup little mini-faqs of each kind of technique that may be needed. Then we can start entering in each type of plant (grouped by family?) and cross-referencing to the techniques where applicable.

Anyone who wants to get started writing any of this stuff - please feel free. I'm going to start putting together some techniques that I'm already familiar with.

When you finish a technique, just post it here as a new thread. Then we'll comment on it, make changes if necessary, and then I'll include it into the database.

Sounds like a good way to start?


Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Works for me Dave.

Knowlesville, NY

Sounds good guys. Lets not forget storage techniques and sources for supplies.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Interesting points, Scott.

One problem is that many storage techniques are controversial. I wouldn't want to be in the middle, for instance, when the pro-dessicating and anti-dessicating crystals folks come up to the scrimmage line.

Freezing, as I've recently found out, is kind of controversial too. I don't understand that one, considering that freezing is how seed banks maintain their stocks. But the reality is, many argue against it.

How about you write this one, and the brick-bats can go in a different direction for a change. :>)

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Yeah,and what about storage containers?
I've been called on the carpet for using _anything_ plastic.

There's strong feelings on both sides of the fence there too.

As for the freezing vs non freezing people Brook,I see both sides with good arguments.Our home freezer systems can't mimic the conditions that the seed banks use.I'm afraid arguments will go on as long as there are seasons.

We might want to have sort of a disclaimer at the top of each topic that states something to the effect..
'These techniques have worked for many members,but there are also other methods of doing this that many others have found to be successful.You should take this information and experiment to see what works best for your conditions'

What do ya'll think? It may keep some confusion down for some of the newbies that may find conflicting information in another source.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Sure, why not.

Not only are there controversies, there are often various ways of accomplishing the same task. Not that one is right and the other wrong. They are both right. But the FAQ author might only be comfortable talking about the one he or she is most familiar with.

I also think we should have the basic tecniques linked to the FAQs. So that if the writer refers to, say, fermentation, it should be a direct link to what that is.

Linking like that will be easy and automatically done by the software I'm writing.

Any reference to the word fermentation, for example, will automatically be linked to the fermentation entry in the "techniques" area of the FAQ.


Milton, FL(Zone 8a)

Count me in.Let those who want to argue about methods spend more of their time growing and saving seed.

Okay, I have a start for the database finished. This is the "first run" but it's working fairly well.

When I get more content in there (like more techniques) I'll write the cross-referencing code. I'll also put in an "Edit" feature so authors can go back and revise their work.

Check it out and see what you think. Add something if you'd like - it works a lot like the forums do.

The Seed Savers Database is right here:


Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

There are a couple of typos, Dave, which I'll clean up as soon as you have the edit feature installed. Other than that, the format looks good.

I'll write up a FAQ on cucumber seed in the next couple of days, and we can then test the link to fermentation.

The edit is now in place, Brook, so you should be able to go edit your entries. You'll see the Edit link under the Title (but it only shows up for entries that you own - so only Brook will see the edit for the Legumes and Fermentation).


And now the cross-referencing is in. Anytime the word "fermentation" appears anywhere in the database, it will automatically be a clickable link to the Fermentation process. This is completely automated, so we'll just set keywords like this for all the techniques we do.


Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

I must be going blind, as well as dumb, Dave. I can't find the edit function.

Brook: My fault. Try again now - it should be there right below the title and above the byline.


Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Working now, Dave. Thanks.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

OK, Dave, so what's next?

We gonna post this in the menu box? Or do you have other plans for how it will appear?

Well, I figure that if everybody likes it and there aren't any bugs reported, I'll put it in the menu bar for everyone to see.

I am surprised that there haven't been any bugs reported yet. I programmed this thing in under 2 hours last night.

I'll add it to the menu tomorrow if everything continues looking good!



Is this to be mainly about vegetables? I have some stuff on my webpage about general harvesting of flowers seeds, if any of that would be any use?

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

The title says "seed" saving, Mary. I don't see why it should be limited to vegetables. Especially if there are specific and varying techniques for various flowers.

I don't grow flowers, as such, so don't know. But I'm sure there are a lot of folks here that would like to share your insights.

Do, however, try and follow the format we've been working on. That is, there are two groups of mini-FAQs. One is on techniques. The other deals with specific plants.

Just by example---and I'm guessing here, because I don't know flowers---I would say that seeds spread readily by the wind have to be contained in a bag of some kind in order to save them before they scatter. If so, "bagging flower heads" would work under the techniques section. On the other hand, if there is something special about saving seed from, oh, say, daisys, then daisys would go in the plants section.

Well, that's the problem with flower seeds - they don't really categorise that way. There are problems about checking whether some types of plants have actually produced seeds - some daisies, in fact - but you don't really think of collecting flower seeds in a particular way because it's a particular sort of plant. The only problem is collecting them rather than letting nature scatter them, whereas I suppose you have them captive for quite a while in a vegetable.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

I'm wondering, then, if it wouldn't make more sense to include that info in the plants database.

For instance, if there's some special way of checking if a flower has produced seed, then the info should be included in the entry for that flower.

Okay, when I put the SS database up I thought that it might not be enough, and I see that that is definitely the case.

I need to expand its capabilities and relaunch it. One capability that we really need is for multiple people to write up information on the same topic.

I'll add in these features, relaunch the ss database soon, and we'll be back in the swing of things. In the meantime, please hold off on adding anything new.


Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Thanks for all the hard work you nice folks are doing. I appreciate it. :)


Lyndeborough, NH

A comment if I may, all fruiting veggies should be fermented, to include peppers and eggplant.


Just a thought - on the GW Seed Saving Forum, people seem to want to know mostly where to find the seeds, what shape the seedpods are, what the seeds look like, and how to collect them. Would you want this sort of thing in the Plants Database or the Seed Saving one?

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 5b)

Hi Mary,

Some people have added this information in the Plants Database when they add a plant. If you are familiar with any plant in the database, you can add an entry/photos to a plant with the information about the seeds. I've been scanning the seeds I have gotten in trade and have posted them at my web site. My site is still a work in progress.

Hope this helps,

Alright, I've decided that we're going to do this through the Plants DB. I'll add some extra fields in there and then we can get started.

This also helps resolve the questions folks had about seed saving things other than veggies.


The "How to Harvest Seeds" and "Pollination, Crossing and Isolation" sections are added to the Plants DB now and can be utilized by any plant in the database.

To see an example of this in action, check out the entries for the snap peas:

There is a category called 'Fruits and Vegetables', which we will use for all the veggie entries. I may separate these two into their own categories later, since we will likely have lots of veggies and few or no fruits listed.

I'll get the techniques FAQ built into this soon. In the meantime, we can now start adding these extra details in with our plants!


This message was edited Monday, Apr 30th 3:13 PM

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

No fruit listings? Say bet. My kids are already fussing about why don't I have strawberries planted yet, and dire predictions of "if we don't plant them now, it'll be next spring before they're planted!!!!" (and my kids know that would mean no strawberries until the year after that!)

And I have three cute little blueberry bushes just waiting for me to give them their own space in my new garden. Not to mention the cantaloupe and watermelon that are going in this week, and then there's all the brambles, and the fruit trees, and on and on and on.....oh yeah, we'll have fruit in the database. As soon as you give me at least six more hours in the day, so I can spend a bunch more time adding all the info, LOL!

Knoxville, TN

I am a newbie,I liked your writing on saving seeds,It is very simple to understand for us newbie's. Thank you for this,I really want to learn to harvest my own seeds.Now
that you have got me excited,when will I be able to start saving my seeds? Hurry you oldbie's and tell me when to snip my flowers as they are blooming now? I am ready to go out in the morning and start snipping away.Now what can I snip and when????
The Herblady

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Hi herblady, Welcome!

If your flowers are still blooming then you are too early to save seed yet. Wait until the flower is dead looking. If you deadhead faded blooms,then you are taking the seeds before they have time to mature.

Choose the nicest blooms with the characteristics that you like...color,size early,etc. Don't deadhead them. Let them fade and turn brown. Some plants lose their petals and a swelling of the stem at the top indicates that you have ripening seeds.Others will have the seed clustered in the center ,like a sunflower would. Each plant is different and if you aren't sure where the seeds are,just ask.Someone here will be more than happy to help on specific plants.

Some plants will disperse their seeds as they get've seen dandilions .Well there are many ways for plants to do this and when your flower fades,you might want to cover it with a little bag made out of pantyhose or something similar.That way you won't lose the seeds if you aren't sure how the plant goes about dropping them.

when the stem and flower head is brown and dry ,cut it from the plant and carefully break it open over a paper plate or something else that will catch any seeds that fall.Some seeds are very tiny and can get lost easily if there is any wind or you drop them.

I spread them out in a single layer and let them dry for another couple of weeks to be sure.Don't put them in direct sunlight or where it is damp. If you haven't harvested a field full,paper plates on top of the fridge is fine.

Store them in containers in a dark cabinet when they are complpetely dry.

If you have any questions,feel free to ask,and enjoy this new addiction that you are getting into. You'll find it very rewarding.

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