Saving Seed Basics

QUALITY CONTROL ~ To maintain the quality of seeds in our library we encourage beginning seed savers to focus on saving seeds from varieties that are easy compared to more advanced seeds. Seeds that are easy to save from are self-pollinating. Cross-pollinators are trickier because they can sometimes hybridize with closely related varieties.  Saving seeds from cross-pollinators may require advanced knowledge and effort. For more information on saving seeds for specific varieties, go to

What types of seeds should you save? When saving seeds choose open-pollinated varieties rather than hybrids. If open-pollinated varieties self-pollinate or are cross-pollinated by other plants of the same variety, they set seed which grows into plants that are still very similar to the parent plant. Open-pollinated varieties may be “heirlooms” varieties that have been passed down from one generation of gardeners to the next, or they may be more recent selections.

We encourage people to start with what we’ve labeled as the “super easy” plants. These seed types are mostly self-pollinating and offer the beginning seed saver the best chance for successful seed saving.

Super Easy: These seeds can most reliably be saved by the home gardener, even if you’ve never saved seeds before.

  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers Arugula
  • Dill

Easy: Some plants are biennials, which means they produce seeds the second growing season. These are still suitable for some beginners. Many of these require large populations and isolation from things that could cross-pollinate with them.

  • Beets and chard
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach

Advanced: Some plants cross-pollinate; that means that if there is another variety around they can pollinate each other and the seeds you save will not be what you originally planted. These plants need to be isolated by large distances or hand-pollinated.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Corn
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons