We’re thrilled to be curating beginning seed saving collections as part of SeedLinked’s Seed Collections project. The new project offers several collections for gardeners to grow, learn, and share with one another using the SeedLinked digital platform. OSA has selected three varieties each for the sunflower, dry bean, and cherry tomato (sold out) collections and we can’t wait to walk new seed savers through the whole process!
Saving seed is an act of hope. We are carrying forward the plants you love to a new year, a new season. For many gardeners, seed saving is also mysterious. How do you know that you saved seed from enough plants? How do you know that the seed is mature? How do you make sure that you are saving seed from the right plants and that those seeds are not the result of accidental crosses? Seed saving can be a lifetime journey of learning, but these collections of dry beans, tomatoes, and sunflowers will be a fun and beginner-friendly introduction to the basic practices you need to know.
How does it work? Select the beginning seed saving collections for your upcoming garden season or as gifts for the avid gardeners in your life. Next, use SeedLinked to track your planting and harvest, and learn what varieties have done well in your region. Throughout the season, you’ll have three live check-ins with the collection curators to learn how to save seed from the varieties and ask questions. Finally, you’ll review the plants in your collection on SeedLinked as an opportunity to share feedback with other growers throughout the country using the platform, and receive a summary of results that can be used for future garden planning.
Learn more about the project on Margaret Roach’s “A Way to Garden” podcast featuring SeedLinked’s Bjorn Bergman.
Find these OSA curated seed saving for beginners collections:
- ‘Velvet Queen’ is an organic and open-pollinated dark red sunflower that is excellent for cut flowers. Great for bird lovers, as the large mature seed heads attract birds to your garden.
- ‘Tiger Teddy’ is an open-pollinated sunflower that was bred under organic conditions by seedsman Don Tipping of Siskiyou Seeds in Oregon. This population is a blend of ‘Tiger’s Eye’ bicolor and ‘Teddy Bear’ genetics resulting in a diverse population of mostly double-petaled flowers with single outer layers and an occasional fully double individual. We love the diversity in this truly unique mix of sunflowers that make beautiful cut flowers!
- ‘Tarahumara’ sunflowers are a traditional variety developed by the Tarahumara people of Northern Mexico. These tall (7-11’) plants produce a single, large (up to 24” across) solid golden flower with pure white seeds. We chose this variety to honor the long and ongoing co-evolution between humans and seeds. The seeds of ‘Tarahumara’ sunflowers are large, plump, and delicious. Be sure not to eat them all so you have some to plant next season!
- Both ‘UC Southwest Red’ and ‘UC Tiger’s Eye’ are varieties that UC-Davis developed for organic farmers. They have the beautiful seed coats and great flavor of heirloom beans, while being naturally resistant to bean common mosaic virus, a major bean disease. Unlike many new varieties developed by universities, these have been released without any patents or intellectual property restrictions, which means that anyone can grow and save the seed. Organic Seed Alliance helped UC-Davis test these varieties on many organic farms during their development. ‘UC Southwest Red’ produces vibrant red and white mottled beans.
- Like ‘UC Southwest Red’, ‘UC Tiger’s Eye’ was bred under organic conditions to combine beautiful color and great flavor with resistance to bean common mosaic virus. ‘UC Tiger’s Eye’ has a striking light and dark brown seed coat.
- Orca’ beans, also known as ‘Yin-Yang’ or ‘Calypso’ beans, have a stunning white and black seed coat. This strain can be traced back to Secwepemc elder Wolverine William Ignace, a seed keeper and indigenous rights crusader, and is carried commercially by Adaptive Seeds, who contributes a portion of the sales to support First Nations’ sovereignty efforts.
- ‘Purple Bumble Bee’ was selected to highlight the important contribution of independent breeders in expanding diversity. ‘Purple Bumble Bee’ is a purple cherry tomato with green marbling and a more oval shape. The variety combines this unique look as an alternative to the standard red tomato, but it is also productive with crack resistance and good holding off the plant. Released in 2012 by Artisan Seeds in California.
- Saving seed from a hybrid can open doors to a new breeding project sometimes revealing surprising outcomes different than the original variety. ‘Gobstopper’ was bred out of Sungold F1 and is yellow skinned with green flesh. We picked ‘Gobstopper’ in celebration of farmer-breeders and seed savers innate curiosity resulting in new open-pollinated varieties. Bred by Madeline McKeever of Brown Envelope Seeds, Ireland, and was introduced to the U.S. by the Seed Ambassadors Project in 2008.
- ‘Gardeners Sweetheart’ is a farmer-bred variety that was developed to please the palate and produce in abundance. This variety was recommended by OSA collaborator Lane Selman, director of the Culinary Breeding Network, and is also acclaimed by Uprising Seeds in the northwest and Fruition Seeds in the northeast. The Washington-based OSA research farm team picked this variety in part because they know how difficult it is to grow a sweet tomato in mild northern climates and this variety thrives in their temperate conditions. ‘Gardeners Sweetheart’ was bred in Maine by longtime seedsman Will Bonsall, and it was chosen to honor the important role of farmer-breeders have in our seed systems.