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Discussion Starter #1
Is genetic diversity in your seed stockpile a consideration?

I know a lot of people here save their seeds, and that is great. However, wouldn't using the same cross pollinated seeds over and over create a genetic bottle neck?

To prevent this, I try to buy my seeds from various sources. In early fall, certain stores mark their seeds down, so I buy a few packets here and there.

The mast majority of my seeds are bought at the local farm supply store. the seeds bought from other places are extras. However, the farm supply store does not sell stuff like pepper seed. So, I rely on saved seeds, or seeds bought from other places for stuff like pepper seed.

 

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Canning queen
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This is why it's important to buy things that you can rotate. For example: You can grow, say blue lake beans one year, and the next you grow Purple climbers. This way you don't have the problem with cross breeding, but are still obtaining and maintaining your seed stock pile.

Alternately, you do cross breed them, and get something awesome. You can also breed true for that, saving the best of the best in order to create something entirely new. This is how most of our modern plants came into existence - at least until the 20th century.

This doesn't create a genetic bottle neck, it's selective breeding, culling out the features you don't want and saving those you do.
 

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I have to do a complete exchange every few years and buy new sets. But I also do it so I can try new plants and varieties that may be better for my zone. I still keep the older seeds as well. I know they will have very low germination probabilities, but I have some seeds that are over ten years old and no plans to bring them out. I just keep them as an emergency backup they take little to no space.

The golds on the right were from a new seed pack. The greens on the left were from a few plantings that were saved, I believe they crossed with moon and stars, cucumbers, and golds you can see traces of each in them, as they once were the solid dark green. Melons and squash are notorious for easily cross pollinating, you can end up with something you didnt want and be out an entire seasons harvest.

I still save most of my seeds, but I go through them and keep 10% or less of what I figure are the prime end products that I let go to seed. The rest I will lightly salt blanch and dehydrate for consumption. Even your large winter squash seeds "spaghetti - butternut - etc" turn out great.

I wish I was better informed on this topic and had the extra room to space things out. Swapping plants also has the benefit of keeping predatory insects and animals from reaching critical mass and destroying an entire harvest. It also helps with soil maintenance, rotation lessons specific mineral depletion, another topic I wish I had foreground knowledge of.


 

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Discussion Starter #4
This is why it's important to buy things that you can rotate. For example: You can grow, say blue lake beans one year, and the next you grow Purple climbers. This way you don't have the problem with cross breeding, but are still obtaining and maintaining your seed stock pile.
I have enough beans and peas to plant a different crop for probably four years, before planting the same one twice.

  • Contender
  • Blue lake bush
  • Roma II
  • Purple hull pea.

Then I have a few small bags of peas and sugar peas.

I use to stock silver skin crowder, but stopped.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The golds on the right were from a new seed pack. The greens on the left were from a few plantings that were saved, I believe they crossed with moon and stars, cucumbers, and golds you can see traces of each in them, as they once were the solid dark green. Melons and squash are notorious for easily cross pollinating, you can end up with something you didnt want and be out an entire seasons harvest.
Yep, a lot of things can cross pollinate.
 

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I am getting zeroed in on some varities that work best in my area, so the seeds I save are always fairly new. But, I've saved everything I've experimented with like IMSTILLHERE. I may want to revive the strain sometime in the future if things go to pot.

I try to keep the genes good by buying a packet of new seed and mix it with the saved seed as I plant. I don't think I could get many of the variaties I grow by buying at a farm store. There are a lot of sources on the internet with a lot more choices. I also try to buy from different sources in different years to keep the gene pool good.

If all of a sudden new seed wouldn't be available I hope I will have the time to pay more attention to the seed I save, selecting for desirable characteristics, and being careful to keep seeds from a large number of plants.

That said some of the plants I like to grow like beets are bi annuals and I have trouble growing seed consistently. I may just break down and buy a large quantity of seeds and try to keep them frozen.
 

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I'm curious as to how long seed can be kept in the freezer. I have planted 3 year old corn seed that I stored in the freezer, but saw a significant drop in ear production. They were peaches and cream, a hybrid.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm curious as to how long seed can be kept in the freezer. I have planted 3 year old corn seed that I stored in the freezer, but saw a significant drop in ear production. They were peaches and cream, a hybrid.
Read through this thread - http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=682673

In 2018, I have some seeds that were bought in 2008 that I will be planting.

Plus, I want to plant more of those seeds that were bought in 2007.
 

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"Hybrids" will not breed true. You might get some production, but eventually they will express to their originating parents. Many times, a hybridization of poor producers will propagate a generation (or two) of good producers. I sometimes purchase hybrids just to let them "devolve" back to their parental origins just to see what I get :D:

Crosses (selective breeding or "oopses") will "breed true" to the new cross. Yes, they are technically hybrids, but most I know of acknowledge a difference between a "hybrid" and a cross.

Neither of those should be confused with GMO. I have spoken with some who consider all cross pollination as GMO. I tell them: "Um... No! There is a major difference."

I have used corn seed stored in my pantry as old as ten years old. I rarely keep any seed (excepting various fruit seed I am attempting to germinate) in the freezer/refer. I prefer not to store seed longer than three years. I'll scatter excess seed in a non-working section of the garden, the yard or give it to people I know prefer to use open pollinated if I have some older than three years or so.
 

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I do not know much about this either. I did naively think 'I can save corn seed this year'. (I actually had a crop!!!!) In looking it up, my book and various other sources said to save corn from a minimum of 100 ears. Sigh......I had only saved 10-15 ears. 100 ears is a LOT of corn. It stated to keep genetics going strong, that was the minimum. So, back to ordering a few packets of seed. Better to learn now. According to my book, various numbers are given. I think it is suggested to overwinter 40 carrots to get seed, etc. Seems to be more important with some veggies than others. Tomatoes seem to be good from one or two fruits. IMHO, A good book is imperative on this subject.
 

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There is a LOT to learn.

As far as the longevity of stored seeds, it depends. In general big seeds keep longer than little ones. Storage conditions matter a lot. As with almost everything else cool and dry is the best. But even if you have pretty old seed there are usually some that will germinate. If you have enough of those you could possibly restart the variety.
 

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I do not know much about this either. I did naively think 'I can save corn seed this year'. (I actually had a crop!!!!) In looking it up, my book and various other sources said to save corn from a minimum of 100 ears. Sigh......I had only saved 10-15 ears. 100 ears is a LOT of corn. It stated to keep genetics going strong, that was the minimum. So, back to ordering a few packets of seed. Better to learn now. According to my book, various numbers are given. I think it is suggested to overwinter 40 carrots to get seed, etc. Seems to be more important with some veggies than others. Tomatoes seem to be good from one or two fruits. IMHO, A good book is imperative on this subject.
No worries. Just add new seed each year to keep your diversity up. Maybe pull twenty kernels from each ear and add to that. Ten dedicated to growing food and the other ten to growing more seed. Mix the years as they are accumulated, but keep adding new.

True breeding matrices do require quite a bit of dedication. If you cannot meet those requirements, just add new every year. Seek out other suppliers to increase that diversity.

My lettuces, carrots, radish, pea, green bean, turnip, broccoli and (some) squashes get an "infusion" of about 20% each year, just because.

Everything else, corn, melons, greens, (some) squashes etc is all either purchased 100% (but annually mixed and same varieties from differing suppliers) or, at best, 30-50% saved seed and the balance purchased. I just, currently, do not have the space to be 100% supplied by self saved seed and still grow the variety of things I want to grow.

It is also my understanding: the 100 ears is to allow for "statistical" reference. Either plant ten of the best looking kernels from each ear (1K stalks) or mix all the kernels together and plant 1K random seeds. This allows you to determine germination rate (a statistic), germination time, growth rate, production level etc. It helps to keep the math simple.

Obviously, the absolute best way to maintain the best genetic diversity is to save the two best kernels from each and every ear of corn and plant half early and the other half late. :D: Have fun with that :thumb: I am not going to do that :eek: But, I do tag plants (regardless of plant variety) for first and last "sprouter", then I tag first and last "flower" and then "fruiter"etc, all as appropriate to the variety of plant. My saved seeds appear to adjust to my environment; sprouting earlier, using less water, growing longer into the heat etc. It is a never ending program.
 

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ITA on the thoughts Lugh had in the last post. I do the same - save the absolute *best* fruit/plant/seeds for next year's crop. It gives me the stuff that's best adapted to my micro climate here.

Some years, I get very little though, this year, that was garlic. For example, my garlic crop here was teeny-tiny due to the weather - cold and dry in the beginning of the summer, and then very wet for the second half. Even though I"m using it, I have to pick thru the cloves to find the biggest ones to plant for next year. If you think of it as using the biggest to make sure you give the plant enough energy to make it thru the winter to next year, it works.

With other stuff, I pick the biggest or best plants because those are the genetics I want to breed true. The other stuff that didn't can go hang - I don't need it to reproduce. I want the biggest, meatiest tomatoes, the lettuces with the biggest leaves, the cabbage that has a nice long field sitting time so that I can get it in the fall and have it not split on me. If you pick the best attributes to breed true, then that's what you'll mostly get. (On open pollinated stuff, anyway - that's all I work with, so there you go!)
 

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Most modern seed sources for food crops have been hybridized for hundreds of years. It is kind of unimportant which variety of beans or tomatoes you are growing year to year.

There is a whole field of ethno-botany that is not well known. The original species and sub-species of crops like potatoes, corn and beans native to the New World are still in their original form. They tend to be very disease resistant and drought resistant. In Peru there are around 60 different types of potatoes (papas). Many of them are the original types that naturally evolved in South America.
 

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Lots and lots to learn about saving seeds. I've got a few books and have only started scratching the surface. Even if you don't have the 100 ideal specimens for "proper" seed saving it's always good practice. In a true SHTF situation you're going to be growing a lot of food so getting that many good specimens probably won't be an issue. Some seeds are a real pain to save. Carrots take two years to go to seed for example.

I just finally stared gardening again and have been playing with as many small plots of heirlooms as I can. I think like a bunch of people I went for the easy low hanging fruit so to speak. Corn, beans, squash and such. Easy to grow generally and easy to save seeds. While I didn't get 100 good cobs I did save some seed and they'll get mixed back in with the leftovers from the original seed packet. Not the "ideal" solution but practice and knowledge will get you a good leg up on others.
 

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Corn is also hard because it is wind pollenated so it has to be isolated long distances from other corn or your strain will be contaminated. Not many places that doesn't have corn growing nearby.

I have a place where no one close by grows corn. I grow golden bantam sweet corn at one end of my place, and on the other end Ray Calisis and painted mountain field corn on alternating years.

Corn is a very good crop for us preppers because it is easy to grow, easy to harvest, and dry corn is easy to store.
 

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I have worked a lot with native plants and growing native plants from seed. One of my close friends has built an empire collecting native plant seed and selling it for reclamation of proects like mine sites, powerline corridors, golf courses and other disturbances.

Native seed stored in dry containers is viable for around 5-10 years. One of the ways to work with the genetic code imprinted on plants is the concept of stratification. Put your seeds in the refrigerator or freezer, then rotate them back and forth between the two several times before you plant them.
 

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Lots and lots to learn about saving seeds. I've got a few books and have only started scratching the surface. Even if you don't have the 100 ideal specimens for "proper" seed saving it's always good practice. In a true SHTF situation you're going to be growing a lot of food so getting that many good specimens probably won't be an issue. Some seeds are a real pain to save. Carrots take two years to go to seed for example.

I just finally stared gardening again and have been playing with as many small plots of heirlooms as I can. I think like a bunch of people I went for the easy low hanging fruit so to speak. Corn, beans, squash and such. Easy to grow generally and easy to save seeds. While I didn't get 100 good cobs I did save some seed and they'll get mixed back in with the leftovers from the original seed packet. Not the "ideal" solution but practice and knowledge will get you a good leg up on others.
That is one of the crazy things right there (bolded). I get seed from my carrots (turnips as well) the first year. I typically start planting [carrot and turnip] in Sept and continue with successive plantings through Jan. By late April to early May, I have seed from both.

On the flip side, in over 20 years, I have never been able to get seed from cabbage, kale, collards and a few other "greens". I think it is because my area is still fairly warm in early winter (allowing for excellent growth, fast) and gets just cold enough to trick the plant into "thinking" the spring is year two.

I still add new seed each year, again just to increase/maintain a good gene pool.
 

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My seed books don't mention that but if it works great. The reason being carrots are like most fruit seeds. They need a frost cycle to tell the plant it's ok to go to seed. So if they are going in Sept and left outdoors they'll get their frost cycle and when the weather heats back up the plant switches from stuff starches and nutrients in the root mode to consume the root to make flower and seed mode.

Where I'm at we don't usually get below freezing but hover close for a few months. Around early November is our first frost. If I had a quick growing carrot cultivar I might be able to squeeze in a batch in September to try that for next year.
 
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