Seeds

WHERE CAN I GET SEEDS
You can buy many of the seeds for your garden at local Grand Rapids businesses including Flowerland, Home Depot, and Meijer.

The Dinner Garden is a non-profit organization that gives and sends free seeds to people to help them start up a garden.
http://www.dinnergarden.org/

Seeds of Change had a similar mission: "to make organically grown seeds available to gardeners and farmers, while preserving countless heirloom seed varieties in danger of being lost to the 'advances' of modern industrial agriculture." The company has since evolved and is serving a new, and related, mission.
http://seedsofchangefoods.com/

The best kinds of seed to get a hold of are heirloom seeds*, and they can be ordered through these websites (or you may be able to collect some from fellow gardeners at one of our seed exchange parties):

Seed Savers Exchange:
http://seedsavers.org/

Seeds of Change:
http://www.seedsofchange.com/

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:
http://rareseeds.com/

Territorial Seed Company:
http://www.territorialseed.com/

*Any seed handed down generation to generation and generally passed among individuals rather than sold in catalogs or stores. Heirloom growers have different motivations. Some people grow heirlooms for historical interest, while others want to increase the available gene pool for a particular plant for future generations. Some select heirloom plants due to an interest in traditional organic gardening. Many simply want to taste the different varieties of vegetables, or see whether they can grow a rare variety of plant.

HOW TO SAVE SEEDS FOR THE NEXT GROWING SEASON
(borrowed from http://www.dinnergarden.org/)

Cantaloupe Seeds
Saving cantaloupe seeds takes a little work. You can also use this method for honeydew seeds and the seeds from Asian melons. Only use the fully formed seeds. Rinse the seeds, removing any bits of melon. Place the seeds in cool water for three to five days. Change out the water every 24 hours. This process will remove the gel coating on the seeds. After the gel coating has dissolved, rinse the seeds. Dry them with a towel, then lay them out in a single layer on a new dry towel to dry for a week in a cool, dry place. Toss them everyday to make sure they dry fully. After a week, store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until the next growing season.

Collard Seeds
Collard, like many greens, will continue producing leaves you can harvest and eat during cool weather, but once the temperatures rise, Collard plants will start producing seeds, a process called bolting. Collard plants create hundreds of tiny flowers on stems that grow out of the center of the plant. After the flower petals fall off, in a couple weeks, you'll see little pods forming on the stems. These pods contain the collard seeds. Let the pods ripen and dry on the plant, then harvest them. Remove the seeds from their pods, then save them in a paper bag until the next growing season. Each planting will produce hundreds of seeds, so send the seeds you don't need to The Dinner Garden!

One thing to note, collards, broccoli, Brussels' sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, and kale, except Siberian kale, are all in the species Brassica oleracea, so they will all cross polinate. If they cross polinate, your seed will be a hybrid that may or may not produce anything. If it does produce, it won't be the vegetable you want. So, if you're saving seeds, only let one type go to seed and pull the rest of the plants before they produce flowers. For example, only let your collards produce seeds and pull your kale, broccoli, and cauliflower before they bolt.

Cucumber Seeds
Saving cucumber seeds is easy. Leave the cucumbers you want for seeds on the vine for a couple weeks after they reach the stage where you would harvest them to eat. You should keep them off the ground to make sure they don't rot. Most varieties will turn yellow. Remove the cucumber from the vine and let the cucumber ripen further on your kitchen counter for another two weeks.

Remove the seeds from the cucumber. Only save the fully formed seeds. Don't keep the flat, underdeveloped seeds. Place the seeds in a bowl of cool water. The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the seeds that float. Let the good seeds sit the in the water for 12 hours on your kitchen counter. Rinse the seeds, dry them with a towel, then lay them out in a single layer on a new dry towel to dry for a week in a cool, dry place. Toss them everyday to make sure they dry fully. After a week, store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until the next growing season.

Kale Seeds
Kale, like many greens, will continue producing leaves you can harvest and eat during cool weather, but once the temperatures rise, kale plants will start producing seeds, a process called bolting. Kale plants create hundreds of tiny flowers on stems that grow out of the center of the plant. After the flower petals fall off, in a couple weeks, you'll see little pods forming on the stems. These pods contain the kale seeds. Let the pods ripen and dry on the plant, then harvest them. Remove the seeds from their pods, then save them in a paper bag until the next growing season. Each planting will produce hundreds of seeds, so send the seeds you don't need to The Dinner Garden!

One thing to note, collards, broccoli, Brussels' sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, and kale, except Siberian kale, are all in the species Brassica oleracea, so they will all cross polinate. If they cross polinate, your seed will be a hybrid that may or may not produce anything. If it does produce, it won't be the vegetable you want. So, if you're saving seeds, only let one type go to seed and pull the rest of the plants before they produce flowers. For example, only let your kale produce seeds and pull your collards, broccoli, and cauliflower before they bolt.

Mustard Seeds
Mustard, like many greens, will continue producing leaves during cool weather, but once the temperatures warms, mustard plants will start producing seeds. Mustard plants create hundreds of tiny flowers. After the flower petals fall off, in a couple weeks, you'll see little pods forming on the stems. These pods contain the mustard seeds. Let the pods ripen and dry on the plant, then harvest them. In mustard varieties like brown, white, or black mustard that are used for spice, remove the seeds from the pods, save some for planting and use the rest in cooking. For mustard varieties grown for greens, remove the seeds from their pods, then save them in a paper bag until the next growing season. Each planting will produce hundreds of seeds, so send the seeds you don't need to The Dinner Garden!

Pumpkin Seeds
You can always eat your pumpkin seeds. They are a delicious snack! If you want to save some seeds for planting, rinse the fully formed seeds in cool water. Discard the flat, shriveled seeds. Remove as much of the pumpkin flesh that you can. Dry the seeds with a towel. Next, lay them out in a single layer on a new dry towel to dry for a month in a cool, dry place. Toss them everyday for the first week to make sure they dry fully. Change your towel if it is damp. For the rest of the time, toss them every four days. After the month has passed, store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until the next growing season.

Radish Seeds
Radishes are in the species Raphanus sativus, which include radishes and Daikon. Radishes will cross polinate with other radishes, so if you have a particular variety from which you want to collect seeds, like Daikon or French Breakfast, only let that type go to seed. Radishes like cool weather, so when you are growing them to eat, grow them during cool months. When you want seeds, leave a few in the ground as the temperatures rise. Higher temperatures will cause bolting, where the plant produces flowers. The flowers will fade and pods will form on the stalks where the flowers grew. The pods look like small green beans. One plant will produce hundreds of these pods. Each pod contains several seeds, so you can count on getting thousands of seeds from one radish plant.

Let the pods ripen and dry completely on the plant before harvesting them. If you leave the pods on the plant after they dry for too long, they will burst and you'll have to collect your seeds off the ground. Remove the seeds from their pods and store them in a paper bag until the next season. Please send your extra seeds to The Dinner Garden, so we can find good homes for them!

Tomato Seeds
The process for saving tomato seeds is a little gross, but it is worth it because tomato seeds are expensive! First, remove the seeds from the tomato. They will be surrounded by pulp and gel. Rinse off the seeds in a fine mesh strainer. Next place the seeds in a bowl of cool water for five to seven days. Don't change out the water. The water will foam and become smelly becasue bacteria will be eatting the pulp and gel on the tomato seeds. After the gel coating is gone, rinse the seeds several times in cool water. Lay them out in a single layer on a dry towel to dry for a week in a cool, dry place. Toss them everyday to make sure they dry fully. After a week, store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until the next growing season.

Watermelon Seeds
Saving watermelon seeds is simple. Only keep the fully formed seeds. Don't bother with the little shriveled guys. Place the seeds in a bowl of cool water. The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the seeds that float. Let the good seeds sit the in the water for 24 hours on your kitchen counter. Next, simply rinse the seeds, dry them with a cloth towel, then lay them out in a single layer on a new dry cloth towel to dry for a week in a cool, dry place. Toss them everyday to make sure they dry fully. After a week, store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until the next growing season.