Free heirloom seeds are now available. Stop by the information desk to get your packets. All seeds are repackaged from Seed Savers Exchange. We currently have:
- Tomato, Italian Heirloom
- Tomato, Beams Yellow Pear
- Tomato, Amish Paste
- Herb, Basil
- Herb, Cilantro
- Arugula (Organic)
- Lettuce, Winter Density (Organic)
- Lettuce, Gulley’s Favorite (Organic)
- Pepper, Tolli’s Sweet Italian (Organic)
- Pepper, Buran
- Bean, Sultan’s Green Crescent (Organic)
- Bean, Provider (Organic)
- Pea, Dwarf Sugar Gray
- Pea, Green Arrow
- Burpee’s Golden Beets (organic)
- Red Russian Kale (organic)
- Amish Pie Squash (organic)
- Edmonson Cucumber (organic)
- Sunflower, Autumn beauty (Organic)
- Sunflower, Arikara (edible)
- New England Aster (prairie flower)
- Purple Coneflower (prairie flower)
- updated February 2020
These seeds are easy to grow and fun to harvest. They are self-pollinating which means they tend to produce plants that are consistent.
Why save seeds? Gardeners and farmers have saved seed since the Stone Age. All domestic crops were once wild plants that early humans selected to feed themselves or later their livestock. Saving seeds: saves money, promotes diversity and security in our food system and community wellness.
Home Seed Saving for Garden Vegetables
Menomonie Public Seed Library Open House, March 5, 2016
© Kathleen Plunkett-Black, 2015
Self-pollinated, little chance of crossing: Easiest seeds to grow
- Peas and Beans Usually pollinated before flower opens.
- Separate by approximately 20-30 feet to avoid chance pollination by insects.
- Lettuce Separate by 20-25 feet, remove all wild lettuce in area.
- Tomatoes Most varieties okay if separated by 10-20 feet.
- Fermentation process kills seed-borne diseases.
Self pollinated, but larger chance of crossing by insects: Isolate or cage
- Peppers Isolate by 500 feet or cage to keep out insects.
- Eggplant Isolate by 50 feet or cage.
- Legumes with longer isolation distances: Runner Beans (½ mile), Lima Beans (150 ft.)
Save tubers or sets (not true seed)
- Garlic Save best bulbs for seed.
- Potatoes Save tubers from high-yielding, disease-free plants for seed.
- Sweet Potatoes Save roots from best plants, sprout in March and root slips to set out.
Cross pollinated by insects: Must be isolated from other varieties of same species or hand pollinated
- Cucurbits (Vine Crops): Isolation distance at least 1/4 mile
- Squash (4 different species)
- Radishes Isolation distance 1/2 mile. Will cross with wild radish.
- Brassica rapa : Chinese cabbage, turnip, and Chinese mustard are all same species. Isolate by 1/2 mile. Will not cross with common wild mustard.
Wind pollinated: Longer isolation distances
- Corn Isolate by time or by at least 1/4 mile or more or hand pollinate. Need minimum of 100 plants to avoid inbreeding depression.
- Spinach Male and female flowers on separate plants; pollen travels five miles or more on the wind.
- Beets and Swiss chard (same species) Biannual. Need at least 15 plants. Pollen can travel up to five miles on the wind.
Biennials: Overwinter for seed production second year (most are insect-pollinated)
- Onions One mile isolation, or cage or bag and hand-pollinate.
- Leeks One mile isolation, or bag and hand-pollinate.
- Carrots Need 30 or more plants. Isolate by minimum 1/2 mile. Will cross with wild carrots (Queen Anne’s Lace)
- Brassica oleracea : Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts are all same species and will cross. Need at least 30 plants to maintain genetic diversity. Isolation distance of one mile.
Seed-Saving: Recommended Reading
Practical, How-to Information
- Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners – Suzanne Ashworth
- Breed your own vegetable varieties: The gardener’s and farmer’s guide to plant breeding and seed saving – Carol Deppe
- The Organic Seed Grower – John Navazio
- The Seed Garden – Jared Zystro and Micaela Colley
- Seeds of woody plants of North America – James and Cheryl Young
Philosophical, Historical and Political Aspects
- The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food – Janisse Ray
- Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver – Diane Ott Whealy
- Field and Garden Vegetables of America – Fearing Burr, 1863, reprinted by The American Botanist, 1994
- Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation – Gary Paul Nabhan
- Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden – as told to Gilbert Wilson. Minnesota Historical Society
- Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity – Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney
- Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge – Vandana Shiva
Botany and Biology
- Botany for Gardeners – Brian Capon – Timber Press, Portland OR, 1990
- From Flower to Fruit – Anne Ophelia Dowden
Seed Saving Organizations