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Horticulture specialist shares seed-saving knowledge

Posted 9/16/2011

Free classes and video make saving seeds a breeze

UNCE Horticulture Specialist Heidi Kratsch is all about sustainability — especially in the garden. The Northern Nevada Master Gardener’s healthy garden starts like any other, with healthy seeds. Kratsch has been gardening for some time, and she’s amassed a respectable collection of seeds taken from her own plants.

For many, the gardening process ends at the plate. But for Kratsch, that’s where it begins.

"If you’re thinking like I am about sustainability, or even if you just crave the taste of a homegrown tomato, consider saving seeds from your garden for next year," Kratsch said. "It will save you the higher cost of buying seeds in packets each year for this indulgence."

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Kratsch is a go-to expert on seed saving. She recently gave a free lecture on the subject in September as part of the "Nevada Landscaping That Works!" series sponsored by NEMO Nevada and Cooperative Extension.

Her most important tip? Avoid ’F1 Hybrid’ seeds.

"F1 hybrids produce healthy, vigorous plants and have traits that were specifically bred into them, such as large fruit size or sweetness," Kratsch said. "Unfortunately, the seeds from these wonder-plants may not look or taste anything like the fruit of the parent. Seeds from these hybrids may not germinate at all or may produce small, sickly plants that never make it to maturity."

Kratsch advised to look for seeds from "open-pollinated" plants instead. These plants — like heirloom tomatoes — were permitted to share pollen freely with other plants of the same species while growing. Because of this, they are more genetically diverse.

If you missed Kratsch’s September seed-saving class, you’re in luck. The Master Gardener helped produce a short, 3-minute video that breaks the process down into easy-to-follow steps. You can view the video on UNCE’s YouTube channel.

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