Guidelines for Returning Seeds


General Guidelines to Seed Saving

Remember the adage “What you reap, so shall you sow.”  If you harvest small tomatoes, you’re likely to get small tomatoes. If you harvest the first tomatoes of the season, their offspring will be more likely to produce earlier in the season.When choosing which seeds to harvest consider the following:
  • Vigor
  • Taste
  • Size
  • Ability to tolerate drought, wind or other extreme conditions
  • Ability to compete with weeds
  • Early-, mid- or late-bearing fruit (whichever is desired)
  • Long storage life
  • Late to go to seed or bolt
  • Good fruit texture
  • Disease resistant
  • Productivity
  • Cold hardiness
  • Resistance to insect pests
  • Larger fruit or flowers
  • Attractiveness
  • Color
  • Shape

Returning Seeds To The Library

  • Dry: Make sure seeds are dry.
  • Clean: Have seeds reasonably cleaned by removing as much of the chaff as possible.
  • Properly saved: Only return seeds from plants that you know how to save properly. “Super Easy” seeds can be fairly reliably saved without cross-pollination (and unintentional hybridization).  “Super easy” seeds include tomatoes, beans, peas and lettuce. Do not return seeds from the brassica (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage) or cucurbit (ex. cucumbers, squash, melons) families unless you have taken appropriate steps to prevent cross-pollination, such as hand-pollinating.
  • Label! Label! Label! Write as much information on the packet as possible. Remember that people only have what you have written on the package to decide if it is a plant that they would like to grow. More info is better.
  • Share the abundance: If you have lots of seeds, considering making multiple packets of the same seeds.

Seed guidelines from the Richmond Grows Seed Library.


Seed Protocol

We want people who take seed to get what was on the label and we want to protect from passing on disease. The following is our basic protocol:*
1. Save from healthy plants. Even if a disease does not get passed on through the seed, we do like to have some selection for disease resistance by only saving from healthy, strong plants.
2. Save from a number of plants so that the seed has some genetic diversity in it. The quantity that is optimum depends on the type of plant, for self pollinating plants a minimum of 6 plants is necessary, for cross pollinating you want to save from much a larger population- see seed saving information sheets.
3. If the plant cross pollinates you want to make sure you keep it isolated so it stays “true to type.”
Check with a seed saving chart or book to get isolation distances.
4. When you bring seed to share at the Seed Lending Library please label with as much information as you can.
5.    We all save seed from a favorite that might not be from a number of plants or isn’t super healthy, or maybe we like some interesting crosses. You are welcome to bring those seeds just make sure you write that down on the label so others know they are participating in your experiment.

*The Seed Protocol is from the West County Community Seed Exchange, Sonoma Co., California.


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