Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saving Money Saving Seeds

One of the best ways to save money on fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs is to grow them yourself. Typically the cost for garden supplies is less than the cost of purchasing the same yield of the items fresh from the supermarket shelves. Also, when you grow it yourself, it cuts out shipping and is much more eco-friendly. Plus, you know exactly how fresh it is when you pick it yourself!
You can purchase plants or buy seeds at regular price, but to save big bucks, you need to plan a year ahead. About this time of year- starting in late July, most stores will severely mark down their seed prices to get them off the shelves by the end of the season.

Resurrecting ancient plants?

Although germination rates (% of seeds that will sprout into plants) will decrease over time, seeds can last A LOT longer than we ever imagined. In fact, according to the Alaska Dispatch, scientists who recently resurrected an ancient plant “in Siberia, successfully germinated a flower from an ice-age seed which is about 32,000 years old.” The Millenium Seed Bank Partnership is a project aimed to save 25% of the worlds seeds by 2020.

Seeds as currency?

I met a very interesting man this weekend while shopping for seeds at my companies associate store, who said he thinks it is possible that seeds could become a new tender in the future, since the world-wide economy is so bad. What do you think of that? It reminds me a little bit of my bartering blog from a few weeks back.

Over 95% Savings!

We got some great deals on seeds at 10 cents a pack! These packages range from $0.97- $3.49 so when I added up the final savings, I saved over 95% from the original price and now I have enough seeds for the next few years, and then some to give to friends. I chit-chatted with the seed-as-currency man while digging through the treasure bins and bins of Burpee, Ferry-Morse, and always organic Seeds of Change seeds. He said most packaged seeds can last about 5 years, or longer if frozen. We estimated that Ferry-Morse “seeds guaranteed to grow” brand has a shorter sell-by date simply due to the decreasing germination rates over time (which happens to all seeds). Seeds don’t technically expire at that time and are simply packaged for a certain ideal season.

Keep in mind:

- How many seeds are in the packet?

This will give you an idea of the final price per seed.

- Is it organic?

It might be worth a little more if it is because it was grown from plants without any pesticide trails, cross breeding, or genetic modification.

- Avoid hybrids for seed saving.

Hybrids are created from two types of plants. So, typically if you save seeds from your plants for next year, you may or may not yield the same results. Or you might not get any fruit at all. Or it could be genetically modified in a way that might harm you (we don’t know all the effects yet of genetic modification).

- Remember the flowers.

When planning a garden for food, don’t forget the benefits of flowers and companion planting. Stock up on marigolds, which help keep pests away, or borage which attracts bees who pollinate your plants. Lavender can be used as an herb and Nasturtiums are edible flowers- great for adding color to salads.

- Consider trading seeds with friends.

Start/join a seed train group online. Add seeds to the “train” and take a few of the ones you want, then mail them on to the next person. It’s a great way to add heirloom seeds to your collection and share what you don’t need or wont use. The next year you will have so many seeds you won't know what to do with them. This is what to do with them!

- Label your packets.

Remember one plant yields many seeds once it has grown and produced fruit. Save as many seeds as you can, and always label them so you know what you have next season. If you can, add any notes about characteristics you noticed. Was this variety the only one that didn’t get a bug infestation? Was the fruit sweeter? Did it handle the cold/heat better than other varieties?

- Negotiate with the store.

By clearance time, many stores just want to get rid of the seeds so they don’t have to ship them back or throw them out.  You might consider speaking with the manager and kindly asking if they are willing to negotiate a lower price for take-all of the seeds they don’t sell.

- Up for a mystery?

By clearance time, there will often be loose “mystery” seeds at the bottom of the store bin, which the store will simply throw away. Ask your store associates if they would let you have them for a small price or free when they clean up the seed containers. It never hurts to ask and you can toss these out or plant them at your leisure in a “surprise” section of the garden, or grow them in small pots and identify them by their leaves early on.

- Don’t forget, you can get seeds FREE…

if you get them from organic fruits and vegetables that you buy from the supermarket or if you gather them from plants in public parks.

*Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for your actions. It is up to you to find out what is legal in your park/city/state.*

What do you think? How do you save seeds? Have you ever joined a seed train? Do you think seeds could become currency in the future? What sort of companion planting do you do? Have you ever planted “mystery” seeds or gathered seeds from your grocery bought food or local parks?

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