New to Seed Saving?
Start with seeds that are labeled “easy.” These seeds are great for beginners and produce plants like the ones you planted.
We recommend you start with these:
The seeds that are labeled “advanced” require special planning to preserve varietal purity. If certain precautions are not taken with them, then the next grower will not get the same plant. We want to ensure that the seeds that you return to the library are indeed what they claim to be. So please borrow “advanced” seeds only after you have learned about isolating plants to prevent cross-pollination.
How to Borrow Seeds
- Fill out the Lincoln Grows Checkout form.
- Select up to 5 packages from the seed collection. (one pack/plant variety limit)
- Give the completed form to a staff member at the circulation desk.
How to Donate and Return Seeds
Once you have collected seeds from your easy-to-save crops, set aside some for yourself and some for the library in clearly labeled containers. Please put seeds for the library in seed packages provided by the library. Bring your labeled seeds to the Library, so they can entered into the Seed Library.
For More Information
Here are some handy links to help you get started:
- Burlington Spring Seed Starting Dates (pdf) from Burlington Community Gardens
- Canadian Seed Catalogue - Seeds of Diversity Canada
- Vegetable Planting and Seed Saving Instructions – Seed Savers Exchange
- Basic Seed Saving - Seeds of Diversity Canada
- Seed Saving Basics by K.Ruby Blume - Institute of Urban Homesteading
*These links are also available as handouts in the Plant Binder.
What are Seeds?
A plant produces seeds in order to reproduce itself. Just like an egg has to be fertilized to become a new animal, a seed must be pollinated to produce a new plant. Understanding pollination is key to getting seeds to produce the plants you want. Some plants are self-pollinating—the male and female parts are contained within a single flower that fertilizes itself. Other plants, called cross-pollinators, have separate male and female flowers and their pollen has to get from one flower to another in order for the flowers to be fertilized.
The seeds from families of plants that are self-pollinating are labeled “easy” to save. The most widely crossing of the cross- pollinators are labeled “advanced” because it takes effort to keep them from crossing with each other.
Types of Seeds
Open-pollinated or heirloom varieties have been grown for so many generations that their physical and genetic qualities are relatively stable. This seed will be “true to type” if saved. In simple terms, you will reap what you sow.
Hybrid seeds. Seeds from those plants will not produce plants like the parent plant. They may produce something somewhat or very different, or they may produce nothing at all.
Cultivars are cultivated varieties that can cross with each other but will not cross with If you learn the family, genus and species of vegetables, you will also learn their basic seed saving needs and risks.
Families define the basic form of the flower parts of plants. All plants with the same flower (and reproductive) structure are in the same family.
Genera (singular: Genus) define more closely related plants. Crosses between genera are rare but can occur.
Species define specific botanically recognized plants with similar fruit, flowers, and leaves. Plants within one species will readily cross with each other.
Family: Cucurbitaceae Genus: Cucurbita Species: Cucurbita pepo Cultivars: Acorn squash, Warted gourd Squash and gourd are the same species and can easily cross-pollinate, which might result in an inedible variety. That is why they are labeled “advanced.”