Compiled for the Saving Our Seed Project (February 2004)


by Lee Barnes (workshop facilitator) and Ellen Gray (Former SOS Coordinator)



Plant Pollination Classes: (extracted from Allard; Ashworth, etc.)

Mostly Self Pollinated: Barley, flax, oats, wheat, common beans, fava, lima bean, pea, runner bean, sweet peas, chicory, eggplant, endive, lettuce, okra, pepper, tomato. (Note: some of these plants outcross at 1-5% or more depending upon presence of pollinators, temperature, humidity, plant stress, etc.- including fava, runner bean, eggplant, pepper, tomato – for absolute genetic control, treat these plants as out-crossers and either hand-pollinate, observe minimum isolation distances, or plant only one variety at a time.)

Mostly Cross-Pollinated: Amaranth, corn, rye, cilantro, fennel, mustard, parsley, alfalfa, red & white clover, asparagus, beet, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, melon, onion, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash, sunflower, swiss chard, turnip, watermelon (Note: these plants require isolation, hand-pollination, caging, etc. for effective genetic control – plants of the same species and rarely same genius esp. cabbage, squash, and melon families will intercross readily requiring careful pollination control to maintain true-to-type seed production. Biennial crops will require winter storage or over-winter protection in severe weather areas and may require replanting for seed production – esp. cabbage family, onions, radishes, carrots, etc. (see Jeff McCormack’s Minimum Recommended Isolation Distances Chart for suggested isolation distances and techniques)

Common Biennials: (require over-wintering prior to seed production 2nd season.) Garden and sugar beets, mangels, broccoli, broccoli raab, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chinese cabbage, chicory, collards, cornsalad, endive, escarole, kale. Kohlrabi, leek, mustard greens, onions, parsley, parsnip, rutabaga, salsify, swiss chard, and turnip.

Seed Saving Books

 (* indicates those available at the CFSA SOS project library)

Allard, R.W. 1999. Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. John Wiley, Inc. 485 pgs. Classic technical text on plant breeding, full of specific details and strategies.

Ashworth, Suzanne. 1991. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving Techniques for the Vegetable Gardener. Seed Savers Publ. 222 pgs. General techniques for saving non-hybrid seeds, with details on over 250 vegetables. *

Bubel, Nancy. 1988. The New Seed-Starters Handbook. Rodale Press. 385 pgs. General text for seed-starting techniques for a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, trees, grains, herbs, etc. Includes 65-page section on seed saving techniques. *

Deppe, Carol. 1993. Breed You Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving. Chelsea Green Publishing. 367 pgs. Laymen’s guide to breeding techniques and strategies. Fairly technical compared to other books. *

Dirr, Michael and Charles Heuser. 1987. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture. Varsity Press, Athens, GA. 239 pgs. THE guide to seed and cutting propagation of over 1100 perennial species, including seed treatment techniques for temperate plants, etc.

Miller, Douglas. 1977. Vegetable and Herb Seed Growing for the Gardener and Small Farmer. Seeds Blum. Reprint 1984. 46 pgs. Easy to follow guide to seed saving.

Rogers, Marc. 1990. Saving Seeds: The Gardener’s Guide to Growing and Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds. Storey Publishing. 185 pgs. Concise, basic guide to saving vegetable and flower seeds, mainly for the home grower. 30 pages devoted to flowers. *

Seeds of Texas. 20–. Vegetable Seed-Saving Handbook. Seeds of Texas. Hardcopy version available by mail. *

Strickland, Sue. 2001. Back Garden Seed Saving: Keeping our Vegetable Heritage Alive. eco-logic books. 200 pgs. British text detailing crop by crop instructions for small scale vegetable seed production. *

Turner, Carole B. 1998. Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step Techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs. Storey Books. 217 pgs. Easy to read text with quick guide “seed fact” sections on each crop, as well as many black and white drawings illustrating basic seed saving techniques. *

Weaver, William Woys. 1997. Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener’s Guide to Planting, Seed Saving, and Cultural History. Henry Holt and Company. 439 pgs. Large volume describing the growing and culinary history of a wide variety of heirloom vegetables. *

Whealy, Kent and Arllys Adelmann. 2004. Seed Savers 2004 Yearbook. Seed Savers Exchange. 408 pgs. Largest seed saving organization in the world, with annual listings of variety sources and descriptions for over 18,000 unique plants. *


Organic Seed Alliance A non-profit dedicated to the ethical development and stewardship of seed.

Seed Savers Exchange Manages collection and volunteer distribution of over 18,000 unique vegetable and fruit varieties; many organically and biodynamically produced.) Also sister organization, Flower and Herb Exchange, 3076 North Winn Rd., Decorah, IA 52101 listing +/-3000 varieties.

Public Seed Initiative. A breeding and seed production training program for northeast growers, organized through Cornell University; excellent site for seed resources, small-scale equipment, production info – highly recommended.

Northeast Organic Farms Association – NOFA’s list of untreated, certified seed; 184 seed sources in 2004.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – extensive info from Jeff McCormack on isolation distances, Seed Growing Guides. Excellent source for southern season adapted vegetables, herbs, flowers, seed-saving supplies, etc.

RAFI info on seed company consolidation, 2000.

The Vermont ‘Restoring Our Seed’ program (similar to our SOS program; SARE funded). Seed production/breeding readings by John Navazio and Frank Morton available online.

Primal Seeds. Info on biodiversity and ‘why save seeds,’ specific seed saving tips, many European sources, etc.

Clearinghouse list for many organic/heirloom/seed resources, suppliers, books, etc. Many links, however, are outdated.

A good listing from the USDA on heirloom/organic seed sources. Online four volume set with hundreds of websites.

Association of Seed Certifying Agencies. Guide to state certifying organizations, operational standards, etc. Has a little bit on organic.

Clemson’s list of organic seed sources; suppliers of seed/fertilizers/feed/web resources.

Good seed company list from Debbie Roos, NC Extension (Growing Small Farms listserve).

Southern Seed Legacy, organization dedicated to saving seeds and the family histories behind them; many resources and reference photos of 433 seeds.

Detailed info on bee pollinated plants. Especially good section on buckwheat.

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, listing many organic alternatives including organic crop production, organic seed sources, etc.

Jack Rowes’s excellent free on-line seed saving handbook. Highly recommended!

The Pemaculture Activist also has a great list of seed saving resources.

Saving Our Seed is a USDA Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) funded project, organized by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and nine partnering organizations, working to increase the availability of regionally adapted, open pollinated, certified organic seed and develop a southern seed network.

> For more information, contact Mark Dempsey, CFSA’s Farm Services Coordinator.