Learn about the history, work and latest projects of Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) from co-founder Diane Ott Whealy. SSE was founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy, with the mission to save and share the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage. Their collection started when Diane's terminally-ill grandfather gave them the seeds of two garden plants, which his parents had brought from Bavaria when they immigrated to St. Lucas, Iowa in the 1870s. Today that mission is carried forward by our members, who have distributed hundreds of thousands of heirloom garden seeds. In Decorah, Iowa and around the world, seed savers engage in courageous acts of preservation to pass on the legacy of genetic and cultural diversity to future generations.
October 2013: Heirloom Gardening with Rosalind Creasy
Author, photographer, and landscape designer Rosalind Creasy gives a presentation on gardening with heirloom vegetables and flowers, featuring her gardening photos and wisdom.
September 2013: Eggplant Seed Saving
Eggplant is a wonderfully diverse crop-type that can be addictive for chefs and seed savers alike. Though its spongy flesh makes seed removal a bit more complicated, saving seeds from this self-pollinating Solanum is fairly straightforward. Join us to learn how you can grow and maintain many different varieties in your own backyard.
August 2013: Pepper Seed Saving
Saving pepper seeds can be a fiery ordeal, but with proper precautions, peppers are a rewarding crop that will produce plenty of seeds for several years' plantings. Peppers pollinate a bit more promiscuously than beans, peas, and lettuce, but gardeners can harvest pepper seeds and still enjoy the produce (for fresh eating, salsas, hot sauce, pickling), making them a perfect pick for peckish, first-time seed savers.
June 2013: Population Size
Keeping your seed healthy from year to year depends on maintaining a healthy population of plants. For many crop types, such as beans and tomatoes, this is quite simple, while other plant types such as cabbage and corn require larger plantings. In this webinar we will discuss why diversity is important within the variety you are saving seed from, and how inbreeding depression affects your plants.
May 2013: Isolation Techniques
If you're trying to save seeds from multiple varieties of the same plant species in a single growing season, you'll need to consider the possibility of cross-pollination. Cross-pollinated seed is not ideal for seed saving, particularly if you're interested in maintaining the characteristics of a variety from generation to generation. In this webinar, we'll discuss different techniques to keep promiscuous plants' pollen under control. Such techniques include tenting, blossom-bagging, timing, and distance.
April 2013: Organizing Community Seed Projects: Seed Swaps & Seed Libraries
Community seed projects can help build community and facilitate knowledge and seed sharing. If you're interested in starting a seed library, hosting a seed swap, or starting a community seed saving group, this webinar should help you get started and point you toward valuable resources to ensure your project's success.
March 2013: Seed Starting Workshop
Can't wait for the ground to thaw before you start gardening? Sowing seeds indoors and producing your own transplants is a great way to get the growing season started sooner. For northern gardeners, transplants for tomatoes, peppers, onions, and kale are a necessity, and producing your own transplants is much more cost-effective than purchasing them. Growing your own transplants can make your garden more productive and increase the diversity of varieties available to you.
February 2013: Planning Your Garden for Seed Saving
Saving heirloom seeds begins with proper garden planning, and this webinar will help you understand what you need to consider when preparing your garden. How are your plants pollinated? How do you maintain the characteristics of your favorite varieties year after year? Watch this webinar to learn about all this and more
January 2013: Starting Your Own Seed Collection
If you're interesting in preserving rare or unique garden varieties in your own backyard, you should consider starting your own seed collection. Choosing which varieties you'll start with, however can be daunting. In this presentation, we'll give you some advice from expert seed savers - several of whom maintain seed collections of many hundred varieties.
How to use the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook
The Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook, an encyclopedic volume, which in 2013 offers 12,495 unique varieties (and 19,888 total listings) to members from members, is one of the greatest sources of heirloom varieties in the world. The yearbook is a meeting place where gardeners share what they have grown, and learn from others with similar interests. However, it can be intimidating to use if you are new to the organization. In this workshop you will learn how to navigate and select varieties from the online and print Yearbook and proper etiquette for requesting seed from other members.
Learn to grow your own apples and help Seed Savers Exchange rescue antique varieties at the same time. With a sharp knife, rubber bands, rootstocks and scion wood you can reproduce your own trees, renew an aging orchard or participate in scion exchanges. See how simple and gratifying grafting your own tree can be.
Heirlooms, OP's & F1's
We discuss different types of seeds - Heirloom, OP's, and Hybrids. The webinar covers how these varieties are created, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Basic Seed Saving for Beginners
If you're interested in seed saving, understanding some basic concepts before you get started will make the process easier. Learn the difference between open-pollinated and hybrid seed and gain understanding of plant taxonomy, reproductive structures and pollination methods. We will thoroughly discuss some of the easiest plants to start saving seed from—lettuce, tomatoes, and beans.
SSE staff demonstrate techniques for corn hand pollination. For anyone interested in isolating their open-pollinated corn for neighboring field corn or plant breeding, these hand-pollination methods are a useful tool to use in making controlled crosses. Other isolation techniques for corn are also discussed.
We demonstrate techniques for hand-pollination that can be used on melons, squash, cucumbers and watermelon. For anyone interested in plant breeding, these hand-pollination methods are a useful tool to use in making controlled crosses.
Tomato Seed Saving
Tomatoes are a great way to get started saving seed—plus you can harvest seed and eat your fruit! Learn the basics of wet seed processing.
Listing Seeds in the Seed Exchange
Interested in becoming a part of one of the largest seed exchanges in the country? This webinar will go over how to get started and what to expect as a Listed Member.
This is for seed savers preserving rare heirloom varieties, or gardeners trying to store leftover seed from this year's packets. Learn the conditions seed needs in order maintain a high germination rate for long periods of time, and the best way to accomplish this in your own home.
Home Germination Testing
At one point or another, every gardener has stumbled upon a forgotten packet of seed on a high shelf or in the back of a dark cupboard. The seed may bring a season of bounty or disappointment. Before wasting hours of labor and precious garden space on seed that won’t return the flavor, you may want to test the germination rate. Home germination testing can be done with minimal effort, using common household items.