Plant a Seed Saving Garden

A Way to Always Have Your Own Seed Supply

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 28, 2021

By growing open-pollinated plants and saving seeds, you’ll always have enough for next year’s garden.

Two hands opening a sun-dried pod with pea seeds. Plant a seed-saving garden.

Seed shortages and rising food prices due to the pandemic have generated huge demand for backyard gardens. Unfortunately for gardeners, this need collides with a rapidly consolidating seed industry. Dominated by a few global companies, seed corporations are determined to substitute patented seeds, which must be repurchased each year, for open-pollinated seeds, which gardeners can regrow indefinitely.

As gardeners, you can counter this trend by planting heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, and saving your seeds. This does more than simply save you the cost of buying new seeds each year—it builds diversity and resilience in the environment and our food supply.

Starting a Seed-Saving Garden

Starting a seed-saving garden is easy and depends on two things: 1) willingness to let your plants go to seed, rather than tidy up as soon as they bear fruit, and 2) choosing heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. Open-pollinated plants grow true to type, which means that (unlike hybrids) their seeds produce the same kind of plant as the parent. By selecting seeds from plants with the best flavour, size or other desired characteristics, you can create a garden most suited to your tastes and microclimate.

To find seed sources appropriate to your region, get in touch with farmers and local seed savers at seed exchanges such as Seedy Saturday. When you buy, choose from small local producers and nurseries that carry heirlooms and plants adapted to your area. In time, your garden can become its own seed bank, and you’ll have a rich and reliable supply for yearly planting.

Why Save Seeds?

Leek flowers almost ready for seed saving

Flowering leeks draw beneficial insects to the garden as they produce their seeds.

1. Seed saving makes you more resilient. When you save seeds, you ensure your own food source.

2. Plants and seeds are always adapting.
The seeds you save this year will thrive best in your garden’s microclimate.

3. Regionally adapted seeds are suited to grow where you live.
Unlike commercial seed, which depends heavily on fertilizers in order to produce in various areas, seed saved in your region is uniquely compatible to your climate and soil.

4. Flowering seed plants attract beneficial insects that protect your garden.

5. If you save seeds, you won’t have to depend on seed companies
or nursery hybrids (which don’t reproduce true) for next year’s plants.

6. Seed saving lets you taste and enjoy heritage fruits and vegetables.
Old varieties, bred for taste (rather than the ability to withstand long truck trips) often offer superior flavour and nutrient content compared to commercial fare.

7. Growing and saving seeds of heirlooms and open-pollinated plant varieties helps preserve plant diversity. Since the 1900’s, 75 percent of genetic plant diversity has been lost worldwide as farmers planted genetically uniform commercial crops rather than native varieties.

8. Planting and preserving seed from heritage varieties helps protect against worldwide crop failures.
When new diseases threaten monocrops, heirlooms offer genetic resistance to prevent widespread famine.

9. As global corporations introduce more genetically modified (GMO) plants and terminator seeds, seed saving is the most positive, hopeful, and transformative thing we can do to ensure food security and our future.

Seed Saving Resources:

A hand holds golden flax seeds saved for next seasonSeeds of Diversity Canada
BC Seeds
Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada
Organic Seed Alliance

Seed Saving Books:

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth
How to Save Your Own Seeds: A Handbook for Small Scale Seed Production by Seeds of Diversity Canada

Local Seed Sources:

Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map

Search the Vancouver Island Farm Map for local seed producers on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island. (Search on “Seeds” under “Plants & Flowers”.)


More about gardening and seed saving:
10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens

Grow a Climate Change Resilient GardenGrow a Climate Change Resilient Garden

The Seeds of SustainabilityThe Seeds of Sustainability

Open Source SeedsOpen Source Seeds

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