Saving Seeds and Breeding Your Own Vegetable Varieties

In the not-so-distant past, if you gardened, you also saved seeds. You don’t have to now, but you still might want to. Saving seeds is like the black belt for gardeners. If you want to take your garden and your gardening skills to the next level, then start saving seeds. Next, select seeds from the most prolific, aesthetic or tastiest plants and suddenly you’re a plant breeder.

photo collage of bean, sunflower, basil, and celery seedlings

Clockwise from top left, bean, sunflower, celery, and basil seedlings.

Saving your own seeds can be a fun challenge. It’s also a great way to teach kids how genetics work. Gregor Mendel, considered the father of genetics, made most of his discoveries while breeding peas. When you breed your own vegetables, you become the author of your own garden.

Maybe you’re looking for a particular characteristic in a crop and you haven’t found that in an available seed variety. For example, much of the snap bean breeding has been focused on bush beans. Johnny’s Seeds sells 23 types of bush beans but only seven types of pole beans. Mechanically harvested beans must be grown in a bush form. Since commercial interests drive breeding efforts, new bush bean varieties are developed more often than pole bean varieties. When you engage in plant breeding, you can grow and breed crops that lack commercial value but hold tremendous value to gardeners. Continue reading