01 April, 2020

Seed Saving Basics In One Handout!

This is the most informationally dense material I have written. There is a glossary at the end, should you need to define words, some words have specific "seedy" meanings if something doesn't make sense, check the glossary. If you have questions, use the links at the bottom of this post to ask me directly. I hope you find this helpful and inspiring. 

Including the following articles:

Seed Saving Cheat Sheet – by David King
Plant Isolation Table from http://howtosaveseeds.com/ (with lots of other good stuff there too!)
A Seed Saving Bibliography – by David King, a short list of good bedtime reading
A Seed Saving Glossary – by David King, basic terms you'll find in the seed saving world

Seed Saving Cheatsheet – According to Complexity

David King

Beginner

Bean, Lettuce, Pea, Pepper, Tomato
These vegetables offer the beginning seed saver the best chance for successful seed saving. They produce seed the same season as planted and are mostly self-pollinating, minimizing the need to be mindful of preventing cross-pollination.

BeanPhaseolus vulgaris
PLANT: Although, ideally, different varieties should be separated by 150 feet or another crop flowering at the same time, cross-pollination is rare even when two varieties are grown next to each other.
FLOWER: Beans produce perfect, self-pollinating flowers. Cross pollination by insects is possible but rare as pollination occurs before the flower opens. Because the anthers are pushed up against the stigma, automatic pollination is assured when the anthers open.
HARVEST: Allow pods to dry brown before harvesting, about six weeks after eating stage.
PROCESS: Small amounts of pods can be opened by hand. Flail larger amounts.

LettuceLactuca sativa
PLANT: Separate varieties flowering at the same time by at least 20 feet to ensure purity.
FLOWER: Lettuce produces perfect, self-pollinating flowers. Each flower produces one seed. Flowers are grouped in little heads of 10-25 flowers all of which open at once for as little as 30 minutes.
HARVEST: Some outside leaves can be harvested for eating without harming seed production. Allow seed heads to dry 2-3 weeks after flowering. Individual heads will ripen at different times making the harvest of large amounts of seed at one time nearly impossible. Wait until half the flowers on each plant has gone to seed. Cut entire top of plant and allow to dry upside down in an open paper bag.
PROCESS: Small amounts of seed can be shaken daily from individual flowering heads. Rub with hands to remove remaining seeds. If necessary, separate seeds from chaff with screens.

Peas Pisum sativum
PLANT: Ideally, different varieties need to be separated 50 feet or with another crop flowering at the same time..
FLOWER: Peas produce perfect, self-pollinating flowers. Cross-pollination by insects is possible but rare because pollination occurs before the flower opens. Because the stigma does open before pollen is ready crosses theoretically could occur.
HARVEST: Allow pods to dry brown before harvesting, about four weeks after eating stage.
PROCESS: Small amounts of pods can be opened by hand. Flail larger amounts.

PepperCapsicum annuum
PLANT: Most home gardeners will get satisfactory results if different varieties are separated by 50 feet and another tall, flowering crop. New studies from New Mexico State University show more crossing than was previously thought. We recommend at least 400 feet between varieties to ensure absolute purity.
FLOWER: Peppers produce perfect, mostly self-pollinating flowers. Solitary bees will pollinate if a more desirable pollen is not available in the area.
HARVEST: Harvest mature, fully-ripe peppers for seed. (Most bell peppers turn red when fully mature.)
PROCESS: There are two methods, dry and wet, to process pepper seeds. The dry method is adequate for small amounts. Cut the bottom off the fruit and carefully reach in to strip the seeds surrounding central cone. In many cases, seeds need no further cleaning. To process the seed from large amounts of peppers, cut off the tops just under the stem, fill a blender with peppers and water and carefully blend until good seeds are separated and sink to bottom. Pepper debris and immature seeds will float to the top where they can be rinsed away. Spread clean seeds on paper towel and dry in cool location until seed is dry enough to break when folded.

TomatoLycopersicon esculentum
FLOWER: Tomatoes produce perfect, self-pollinating flowers. Anthers are fused together into a little cone that rarely opens until pollen has been shed and the stigma pollinated. (Older varieties with wild tomatoes or L. pimpinellifolium in their genetic ancestry may have stigmas that stick out beyond the cone containing the anthers. Varieties with this trait can be identified by looking closely at mature flowers and need to be treated accordingly.)
HARVEST: If possible, allow tomatoes to completely ripen before harvesting for seed production. Seeds from green, unripe fruits will be most viable if extracted after allowing the fruits to turn color.
PROCESS: Cut the tomato into halves at its equator, opening the vertical cavities that contain the seeds. Gently squeeze out from the cavities the jelly-like substance that contains the seeds. If done carefully, the tomato itself can still be eaten or saved for canning, sun-drying or dehydrating.
Place the jelly and seeds into a small jar or glass. (Add a little water if you are processing only one or two small tomatoes.) Loosely cover the container and place in a warm location, 60-75° F. for about three days. Stir once a day.
A layer of fungus will begin to appear on the top of the mixture after a couple of days. This fungus not only eats the gelatinous coat that surrounds each seed and prevents germination, it also produces antibiotics that help to control seed-borne diseases like bacterial spot, canker and speck.
After three days fill the seed container with warm water. Let the contents settle and begin pouring out the water along with pieces of tomato pulp and immature seeds floating on top. Note: Viable seeds are heavier and settle to the bottom of the jar. Repeat this process until water being poured out is almost clear and clean seeds line the bottom of the container. Pour these clean seeds into a strainer that has holes smaller than the seeds. Let the excess water drip out and invert the strainer onto paper towel or piece of newspaper. Allow the seeds to dry completely (usually a day or two). Break up the clumps into individual seeds, label and store in a packet or plastic bag.

Experienced

Corn, Cucumber, Muskmelon, Radish, Spinach, Squash/Pumpkin. 
The experienced seed saver's vegetables produce seed the season they are planted but require separation to keep unwanted cross-pollination from taking place
Corn - Zea mays
PLANT: Female corn flowers are pollinated predominately by the wind, rarely by insects. Pollen is light and can be carried great distances. For purity, separate two varieties pollinating at the same time by at least 1 mile. Reasonable results are obtained with separation of 1000 feet.
FLOWER: Corn is monecious, producing separate male and female flowers on each plant. Male flowers appear as tassels on the top of corn stalks and female flowers are pollinated via the silk emerging from each ear.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Corn is susceptible to intense inbreeding depression. If seed is saved from too few plants, subsequent plants may be short, mature late and produce few ears. Grow at least 200 plants and save the seeds from at least 100 of the best.
HARVEST: Corn seed is usually ready to be harvested 4-6 weeks after eating stage.
PROCESS: Process all but very large amounts of seed by gripping dried ears by hand and twisting allowing kernels to fall into container. Any remaining silk and chaff can be winnowed.

CucumberCucumis sativus
(All cucumbers except Armenian cucumbers which are Cucumis melo)
PLANT: Separate two different cucumber varieties by at least 1/2 mile, or segregate by time to ensure purity. Experienced, home, seed savers can grow more than one variety at a time in a single garden by using hand pollinating techniques.
FLOWER: Cucumbers are mostly monoecious with separate male and female flowers on each plant. Female flowers can be identified by locating the ovary (a small looking cucumber) at the base of the flower. Cucumber vines will produce the greatest amount of female flowers when day length shortens to approximately 11 hours per day. Fruits will be aborted during dry spells and very hot weather.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Although inbreeding depression is not usually noticeable in cucumbers, seeds should be saved from at least 6 cucumbers on 6 different plants.
HARVEST: Cucumbers raised for seed cannot be eaten. They should be left to ripen at least 5 weeks after eating stage until they have turned a golden color.
PROCESS: Slice fruit lengthwise and scrape seeds out with spoon. Allow seeds and jelly-like liquid to sit in jar at room temperature for 3 or 4 days. Fungus will start to form on top. Stir daily. Jelly will dissolve and good seeds will sink to bottom while remaining debris and immature seeds can be rinsed away. Spread seeds on a paper towel or screen until dry. (See instructions for tomato.)

MuskmelonCucumis melo
Divided below into seven separate groups because of similar features. All C. melos varieties in all groups will cross with each other. They will not cross with watermelons which are Citrullus vulgaris. 
Indorus: honeydew, crenshaw, casaba
Conomon: Asian, pickling melons
Dundaim: pocket melon
Cantalupensis: true cantelopes (without netted skin)
Flexuosus: Armenian cucumbers
Reticulatus: Persian melons, muskmelons with netted skin and orange flesh
Chito: orange melon, garden lemon melon
PLANT: Separate two different muskmelons by at least 1/2 mile or separate by time to ensure purity. Experienced, home, seed savers grow more than one variety at a time in a single garden by using hand pollinating techniques. Muskmelon flowers are small and relatively difficult to hand pollinate.
FLOWER: Muskmelons are mostly monoecious with separate male and female flowers on each plant. Female flowers can be identified by locating the ovary (a small looking melon) at the base of the flower. The early flowers are the most likely to be successfully pollinated and eventually produce seeds.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Not usually a problem with muskmelons.
HARVEST: Muskmelon seed is mature and can be harvested from ripe and ready to eat muskmelons.
PROCESS: Simply rinse seeds clean, dry with towel and spread on board or cookie sheet to complete drying.

RadishRaphanus sativus
PLANT: Separate different varieties being grown for seed at the same time by at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. Satisfactory results for home gardeners require no more that 250 feet of separation. As radishes cannot self-pollinate, pollen must be carried by insects from plant to plant.
FLOWER: Radishes produce annual flowers which require pollination by insects, primarily bees.
HARVEST: Harvest 3' tall stalks containing seeds pods when pods have dried brown. Pull entire plant and hang in cool, dry place if all pods are not dried at the end of the growing season.
PROCESS: Open pods by hand for small amounts of seed. Pods that do not open when rubbed between hands can be pounded with hammer or mallet. Winnow to remove remaining chaff.

SpinachSpinacia oleracae
PLANT: It is probably best to grow seeds for only one variety of spinach at a time. Remove plants which bolt first, and thin remaining plants to 8" for seed production. Leave one male plant for each two females to ensure pollination.
FLOWER: Spinach is "dioecious", with male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowers are wind pollinated by spinach's dust-like, powdery pollen which can be carried for miles..
HARVEST: Some outside leaves can be harvested for eating without harming seed production. If possible, wait until all plants have dried brown. Pull entire plant and hang in cool, dry place if necessary at the end of the growing season.
PROCESS: Strip seeds in upward motion and let them fall into container. Chaff can be winnowed. Use gloves for prickly-seeded types.

Squash/Pumpkin -
Cucurbita maxima varieties with large, hairy leaves, long vines and soft, hairy stems and include: banana squashes, buttercups, hubbards and marrows
Cucurbita mixta varieties with large, hairy leaves, long vines and hard, hairy stems and include the cushaws
Cucurbita moschata varieties similar to C. mixta with flaring stems at the fruit and large, green sepals surrounding the flowers and include: butternuts
Cucurbita pepo varieties with prickly stems and leaves with a hard, five-angled stem and include: acorn squashes, cocozelles, pumpkins, crooknecks, scallops, spaghetti squashes and zucchinis
PLANT: Squashes from different species (see above) can be grown next to each other. Separate different squash varieties in the same species by at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. (Some crossing between C. mixta and C. moschata has been reported recently.) Experienced, home, seed savers grow more than one variety in a single garden by using hand pollinating techniques. Squash flowers are large and relatively easy to hand pollinate.
FLOWER: Squashes are monoecious with male flowers and female flowers on each plant. Female flowers can be identified by locating the ovary (a small looking squash) at the base of the flower. (Some female flowers have stamens.)
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Not usually noticed in squash and pumpkins.
HARVEST: Squash must be fully mature before harvested for seed production. This means that summer squashes must be left on the vine until outer shell hardens. Allow to cure 3-4 additional weeks after harvest to encourage further seed ripening.
PROCESS: Chop open hard-shelled fruits and scoop out seeds. Rinse clean in wire strainer with warm, running water. Dry with towel and spread on board or cookie sheet to complete drying

Expert

Beet/Swiss Chard, Cabbage Family, Carrot,  Escarole/Frissee, Onion, Radicchio/Endive,  Turnip/Chinese Cabbage. 

Beet/Swiss ChardBeta vulgaris
PLANT: Grow seed for only one variety of beet or Swiss chard at any one time.
FLOWER: Beets and Swiss chard produce perfect flowers. Pollen is light and can be carried for miles by the wind.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Save seed from at least 6 different beets to ensure genetic diversity and vigor.
HARVEST: Cut 4' tall tops just above the root when majority flowering clusters have turned brown. Tops can be stored in cool, dry locations for 2-3 weeks to encourage further seed ripening.
PROCESS: Small quantities of seed can be stripped by hand as seed matures. Large numbers of tops can be put into a cloth bag and stomped or pounded. Chaff can be winnowed.

Cabbage Family Brassica oleracea
Includes broccoli, brussels sprout, cauliflower, cabbage and kale.
PLANT: All vegetables and varieties in this large species will cross with each other. Separate different varieties at least 1000 feet for satisfactory results or at least 1 mile for purity. Caging with introduced pollinators or alternate day caging is also recommended in small gardens.
FLOWER: Flowers are perfect, most of which cannot be self-pollinated. Necessary cross-pollination is performed by bees. The stigma becomes receptive before the flower opens, and pollen is shed hours after the flower opens.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Plant at least 6 different plants to protect vigor and ensure a reasonable amount of genetic diversity.
HARVEST: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi heads grown for seed should not be trimmed for consumption. Brussels sprouts, collards and kale can be lightly trimmed for eating without affecting quality seed production. If small amounts of seeds are wanted, allow individual pods to dry to a light brown color before picking and opening by hand. Lower pods dry first followed by those progressively higher on the plant. For larger amounts of seeds pull entire plant after a majority of pods have dried. Green pods rarely produce viable seeds even if allowed to dry after the plant is pulled.
PROCESS: Smash unopened pods in cloth bag with mallet or by walking on them. Chaff can be winnowed.

CarrotDaucus carota
PLANT: Separate different varieties at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. (Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot will cross with garden carrot.) Alternate day caging or caging with introduced pollinators allows two or more varieties to be grown for seed in small gardens.
FLOWER: Carrots produce perfect flowers that are cross-pollinated by a number of insects. Flowers are arranged in round, flat groups called umbels.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Carrots can exhibit severe inbreeding depression. Save and mix seed from as many different carrots as possible.
HARVEST: For small amounts, hand pick each umbel as it dries brown. Large amounts of seed can be harvested by cutting entire flowering top as umbels begin to dry. Allow to mature in cool, dry location for an additional 2-3 weeks.
PROCESS: Clean small amounts by rubbing between hands. Larger amounts can be beaten from stalks and umbels. Screen and winnow to clean. Carrot seed is naturally hairy or "bearded". Debearding in the cleaning process does not affect germination.

Onion - Allium sp.
Varieties within each onion species will cross with each other. Crosses between species although not common, are possible.
Allium schoenoprasum: Common chives
Allium tuberosum: Garlic chives
Allium fistulosum: Japanese bunching onions (Occasional crossing between A. fistulosum and A. cepa has been observed.)
Allium cepa comprised of three groups: Aggregatum includes shallots, multiplier onions and potato onions; Cepa our biennial, common storage and slicing onions; Proliferum includes the Egyptian or walking onions.
PLANT: Separate from other flowering Alliums of the same species at least 1000 feet for satisfactory results or at least 1 mile for purity. Caging with introduced pollinators or alternate day caging is also recommended in small gardens. 
FLOWER: The Alliums produce perfect flowers, most of which are cross-pollinated because stigmas in each flower become receptive only after pollen in that flower is shed. Flowers in an individual umbel open and shed pollen at different times so crosses can and do occur on the same plant. Cross-pollination is performed mostly by bees.
INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Onions display a fair amount of inbreeding depression after two or three generations of self-pollination. Save and mix the seeds from at least two different plants.
HARVEST: Clip umbels as soon as majority of flowers have dried. Seeds will start dropping from some flowers at this time so check often. Allow to dry in cool, dry location for up to 2-3 weeks.
PROCESS: Fully dried flowers will drop clean seeds naturally. For small amounts, rub remaining flowers to free seeds. For larger amounts, rub heads over screens. Winnow to remove remaining debris.

Plant Isolation Distances Table




Please note, these distances have been formulated for rural environments – no one has data applicable to urban growing, but the suspicion, and the experience of most SLOLA members, indicate that the distances will vary from these, and sometimes by quite a bit. In the final analysis, one needs to learn one's own growing situation and note air flow and insect activity. These charts also do not account for 'organic' methods which almost invariably means more insects interacting with the plants and create further variances from the figures below.

Plant
Isolation Distance

(Ashworth)*
Isolation Distance

(USDA)
Pollinator
Amaranth
¼ to 2 miles 1
wind, insects
Arugula
½ mile (2640')
660 feet 7
insects
Basil
150 feet
insects
Bean, Common
0 to 1 mile 4
0 5, 4
self 2
Bean, Fava
0 to 1 mile 4
0 5, 4
self 2
Bean, Lima
0 to 1 mile 4
0 5, 7, 4
self 2
Bean, Tepary
0 to 1 mile 4
0 5, 7, 4
self 2
Beet
5 miles
wind
Broccoli
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Broomcorn
660 feet 7
self 2
Brussels Sprouts
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Cabbage
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Cantaloupe
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Carrot
½ mile
insects
Cauliflower
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Celery
1 mile
insects
Chinese Cabbage
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Chinese Mustard
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Chives
1 mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Collards
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Cilantro
½ mile
insects
Corn
2 miles
660 feet
wind
Cotton
¼ mile 6
self, insects
Cowpea
0 to 1 mile 2
0
self 2
Cucumber
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Dill
1 mile
insects
Eggplant
50 feet
self 2
Fennel
½ mile
insects
Garlic
1 mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Garlic Chives
1 mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Gourds
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Kale
½ mile
660 feet 7
insects
Lamb's Quarters
5 miles
wind
Lettuce
25 feet
self 2
Melon, Honeydew
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Melon, Musk
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Mustard
½ mile
660 feet
insects
Okra
1 mile
825 feet
self, insects
Onion
1 mile
¼ mile
insects
Parsley
1 mile
insects
Pea
50 feet
0 2
self 2
Pepper
500 feet
30 feet
self, insects
Potato
30 feet 3
30 feet 3
self, insects 3
Pumpkin
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Radish
½ mile
660 feet 7
insects
Sorghum
660 feet
self 2
Spinach
5 miles
wind
Squash
½ mile
¼ mile 7
insects
Sunflower
½ to 3 miles
½ mile
insects
Swiss Chard
5 miles
wind
Tomatillo
0 4
30 feet 7
self 2
Tomato
0 4
30 feet
self 2
Turnip
1 mile
660 feet 7
insects
Watermelon
½ mile
¼ mile
insect

Footnotes:

  1. Green amaranths may need only ¼ mile, grain amaranths up to 2 miles.
  2. Potatoes are not commonly reproduced from seed.
  3. See note on tomatoes and beans in the article on Saving Seeds True-to-Type.
  4. "Distance adequate to prevent mechanical mixture is necessary".
  5. Isolation distances for cotton vary from 100' between similar varieties, to ¼ mile between 'upland' and 'Egyptian' types ('foundation' or 'preservation' grade).
  6. Extrapolated from similar species.


A Seed Saving Bibliography

David King

A Seed Saving Guide for Gardeners and Farmers, Organic Seed Alliance © 2010 OSA This publication is a free download from organicseedalliance.org. It is a succinct guide with few frills but a great deal of good data. A free publication that is worth paying for! Organic Seed Alliance is a non-profit relying on contributions to fight the invasion of hybrids and GMO seeds in our lives. I suggest throwing a donation their way as they deserve it.

Breed Your Won Vegetable Varieties, Deppe, Carol © 2000, Chelsea Green Publishing The subtitle gets more to our point: The Gardeners' and Farmers Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, I had bought this book about three years ago and, for whatever reason, I ignored it. In preparing to teach seed saving, the subtitle pulled me in: Suddenly, it was a different book. She is very, very funny and her stories of seed saving are heart warming; I felt I had met a kindred spirit – I want to drive to Oregon and 'shoot the compost' about seeds over a brew or tea or whatever she's having with her. I'll buy. A good reference – she tells it like is from the winnow pile.

Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation, Nabham, Gary Paul, © 2002 North Point Press, Though not strictly about saving seeds, this book, along with almost all of Nabham's books give one the reasons to save seeds. I respect and admire Nabham's work – he writes brilliantly and tells stories we need.


Heirloom Vegetables, Stickland, Sue, © 1998 Fireside Books, A wonderful introduction to heirloom vegetables and how and why to grow them. Now that the Weaver book (below) is no longer easily available, this is the heir apparent. It is, however, only an introduction and is not nearly as comprehensive as Weaver's.


Seed To Seed, Ashworth, Suzanne © 2002, Seed Savers Exchange, If there is one go-to, authoritative publication on seed saving and all the essential steps to make it work, Ashworth's book fills the bill. It is filled with black and white photographs that clearly illustrate points that would only be confusing without an illustration and it is written in clear, straightforward English. Like all of these books, much time is devoted to discussions of frost and how to work around it, but that's a flaw we in Los Angeles (and elsewhere frost free) have to learn to deal with and work around.


The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production, Navazio, John ©2012, Chelsea Green Publishing This new book was written to fill the void in the marketplace that had no definitive text for professional growers growing seeds organically for the organic seed trade. This is an up and coming market as the world turns more and more to organic produce and growers have begun to realize that seed produced by growers using non-organic methods performs best under non-organic regimens. Suddenly, there is a market for organic seeds and varieties developed to grow in organic gardens. This book is rigorous and is not light reading. Be prepared. But is also chock full of data you will want to know sooner or later.


A Seed Saving Glossary


David King



This is not a comprehensive glossary, but should define most terms you will find in this literature.
alternate-day caging - A technique that allows two different flowering varieties to be pollinated by insects without being cross-pollinated. Cages constructed of wood, wire, or plastic frames are covered with fine screen. One variety is covered with cages one day, allowing the other to be visited and pollinated by insects; the cages are switched each day to allow insect access to the previously caged variety.
anther - Organ where pollen is produced.
chaff - Broken pieces of dried seed capsules, stems, leaves and other debris mixed in with seeds.
characteristics - General features caused by unidentified complexes of genes including but not limited to freeze tolerance, cold tolerance, regional adaptability, winter hardiness, early maturation, and flavor.
cleaning screen - Screens with different-sized openings are used to separate seeds from chaff. The screen number denotes the number of openings that will cover a one inch line. A screen is selected with openings just large enough to let seeds drop through without the chaff or as in the case of larger seeds, a screen selected to allow the chaff to drop through without the seeds. (See page 36.)
cross-pollination - When pollen is exchanged between different flowers from the same or different plants.
dehiscent - A seed capsule opened to discharge seeds is dehiscent. Seeds must be harvested before this process takes place and the seeds are lost. In some varieties, the seed capsules literally explode.
dioecious - A species with male flowers and female flowers on separate plants as opposed to monoecious.
dominant trait - The variation of a specific, identifiable gene that results in obserable traits. For example, tall is a dominant trait in pea plant growth. Crosses with bush varieties will usually result in tall varieties. See "trait."
F1 hybrid - The "F" in F1 hybrid stands for filial or offspring. F1 means the first generation offspring after cross-pollination. The majority of F1 hybrids are sterile or produce offspring unlike themselves. See "hybrid."
F2 hybrid – The second generation offspring and so on.
filament - Tube that supports the anther where pollen is produced.
flail - The process of fracturing or crushing seedpods in order to free the seeds. This can take the form of everything from simply rubbing broccoli pods between your hands to driving over bean vines with a car or bribing high school students to jump up and down on seeds.
flower - The part of a plant where reproduction takes place and seeds are produced.
hybrid - Varieties resulting from natural or artificial pollination between genetically distinct parents. Commercially, the parents used to produce hybrids are usually inbred for specific characteristics.
inbred – reproduction of plants using parents that are significantly similar over time. In some plants this is not a problem (tomatoes and lettuce, for example) as they have flowers with both male and female and are typically fertilized within the flower before it even opens (see 'selfing'); other plants, needing a wide variety of genetic information to remain healthy cannot last long with such a limited gene pool.
inbreeding depression - A loss of vigor because of inbreeding. Inbreeding is the result of self-pollination or pollination between two close relatives.
insect pollination - Pollen is carried from one flower to another by insects.
monoecious - A species is monoecious if it produces single plants with separate male flowers and female flowers on the same plant.
open-pollinated - Open-pollinated varieties are stable varieties resulting from the pollination between the same or genetically similar parents. Not hybrid.
ovary - The female part of a flower that contains the ovules. Fertilized ovules develop into mature seeds.
perfect flowers - Individual flowers that contain both stamens and pistils, that is to say, both male and female parts.
pistil - The female reproductive organ in a flower made up of the stigma, style, and ovary.
pollen - Equivalent of sperm in plants. Pollen grain fertilizes plant ovules.
pollination - The process of sexual fertilization in plants. The male chromosomes contained in pollen are combined with the female chromosomes contained in the ovules; pollination can be done by insects, wind, water, birds or bats. In most vegetable crops pollination is carried out by wind or insects.
recessive trait - The variation of a specific, identifiable gene that results in observable traits only if the dominant trait is not present. For example, wrinkled pea seeds result only in varieties where the dominant smooth-seed trait is missing.
rogue - The process of removing or destroying plants with unwanted characteristics or traits.
selection - The process of saving the seeds from plants that exhibit desirable characteristics and traits. To identify desirable characteristics, plant the same variety in different environmental conditions, or plant different varieties in the same environ mental conditions.
self-pollination (selfing) - When pollination takes place within a single flower, usually before it opens. Other flowers or plants are not needed. Self-pollinating flowers are called "perfect flowers" because they contain the stamens that produce pollen and the pistil that receives the pollen. Isolation distance to prevent cross-pollination is not necessary unless insects are known to invade the flowers before pollination is complete.
silique - Long, tube-like seedpod that splits in half.
stamen - A flower's male reproductive organ consisting of the filament, anther, and pollen.
stigma - The opening in the pistil through which the pollen passes to the ovary.
style - Contains the pollen tube between the stigma and the ovary through which the pollen is carried.
thresh - A term used by growers and seed savers to describe the process of separating seeds from chaff; they can be separating for grain to eat or for seeds to save, the term is ubiquitous.
trait - A specific feature traced to an identifiable gene or group of genes. Pea traits traceable to single genes include vine growth (bush or tall), seed texture (smooth or wrinkled) and disease resistance (fusarium, enation mosaic, and powdery mildew).
viable - A viable seed is one that will germinate and produce a vigorous plant. Seeds must not be harvested before they have matured enough to be viable. There is wide variation in the point of maturity at which a seed can be harvested and the time passing when the seed will still be viable. Seeds have been known to remain viable for hundreds of years, but in practice, many seeds are no longer viable even after five years.
vigor - Strong, vibrant germination and growth. A desirable characteristic.
wind pollination - When pollen is carried from one flower to another by the wind.
winnow – A seed cleaning technique still used from ancient times to clean seeds by moving air from a fan or breeze to separate heavier seeds from lighter chaff.

* Seed To Seed, Ashworth, Suzanne © 2002, Seed Savers Exchange

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