Book Review: Seed Sowing and Saving

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on December 20, 2010

One of the best ways to get locally adapted seeds is to obtain seeds from someone in the area who has saved them. That works the first year. What do you do after that? Well, you save your own seeds from a small percentage of the vegetables. Sounds simple, but it can get complicated fast.

Some seeds need to be soaked before being dried and saved, some will rot if you do that. Some plants only produce seed after they have been growing for two years. And some seeds need to be lightly sanded or soaked before planting or they won’t germinate.

Fortunately, there are people who keep track of all this. One of them is Carole B. Turner, who wrote a book that is still considered one of the best books on the topic. Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step Techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs is a very comprehensive book that covers all you need to know about seed saving. Many books tell you how to save the seeds from your plants, but neglect to tell you how to germinate them and grow the resulting plants successfully.

Turner covers picking the plants from which to save the seed, harvesting the seed, treating it so that it will keep (for example, soaking the pulp off the tomato seeds so they do not rot), and then planting it the next year for production. For each plant covered, the book talks about the plant characteristics, things to watch out for, how to tell when the seed is ready to save, how to harvest it, and how to save it. Turner also goes into how to germinate the seed indoor or outdoor. The maximum time you can save each type of seed is given in years, too.

There are a number of helpful appendices on germination temperature, plant characteristics, and seed sources. While the book was first published in 1998, many of these sources still exist. Some of the addresses may have changed, and some sources may have gone out of business.

Normally, when I review a book, I discuss the negatives as well as the positives. There really isn’t a whole lot to quibble with here. I do wish they would do a second edition and update the references and sources, but that is my only suggestion. This book is just the thing for the gardener who wishes to save their own seeds or grow open pollinated seeds saved by others.

Gardenbookfrontcoverthumbnail For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today! 

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