Friday, 1 July 2016

seed saving rotation

I seem to be saving a lot of seeds these days.  What with regular garden seed saving and on top of that all these fascinating plant breeding projects.  There's a lot of different kinds of plants.

However, some plants cross-pollinate more easily than others.  Sometimes I want this, but sometimes I don't.  For example, chard, beet, and mangelwurzels can exchange pollen.  So when I plan my garden, I need to take this into account - what plants am I saving seeds from and where?  What isolation distances do I  need?

Isolation distance is a tricky thing.  Take a dedicated selfer like peas.  They have an official cross-pollination chance of 1% and a recommended isolation distance of 4 feet.  This is, however, in an industrial setting with pesticides.  An organic farm like ours has lots of bees on the peas.  What's more, in some parts of the world, cross-pollination chance is as high as 60% (numbers from Carol Deppe's book How to Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving).

Isolation distance isn't just distance in space, it is also distance in time.  So if I don't want my chard to cross with my mangelwurzels, then I can save seeds from chard this year and mangels the next.  Here are some ideas of how I can manage different seed saving rotations.


The big tall thing tied up with rope is chard going to seed.



  1. chard 
  2. mangelwurzels 
  3. beet




  1. kale breeding project
  2. cabbage
  3. broccoli
  4. cauliflower
  5. brussels sprouts
  6. collard breeding experiment



  1. mustard
  2. komatsuna
  3. komatsuna breeding project


I can't remember where turnips fit in this, and if mustards and kales are going to be a problem if they are in the same garden.  This needs more research and will be expanded on as I learn more.

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