Course 13 | Seed Saving

Skillfully select the best time and method to harvest and save seeds in order to promote a sustainable future.

General Interest

Length: 2 hours

Instructor: Lindsay Hounslow | Medical Herbalist, Organic Master Gardener

This course is within the following program

  • Community Herbalist Certificate

    Full Certificate Program

    view course

Meet your course instructor

Lindsay Hounslow | Medical Herbalist, Organic Master Gardener

Lindsay’s interest in plants was cultivated in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. During 10 years of work as a naturalist guide, Lindsay gained a deep appreciation for ecology and her clinical practice integrates her respect for the profound nature of connection within our web of life. She has a deep love for plants and a passion to increase the availability of safe, effective medicines in a form that nurtures our shared spiritual and ecological health. After studies in geography, nutrition, and yoga, and mentorship in energy work, shamanism, organic gardening, and herbal wildcrafting, she dedicated herself to herbal studies and was one of PRC’s first Diploma of Phytotherapy graduates. She is a professional member of the Canadian Herbalist Association of BC and is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations. She practices herbalism in her home community of Fernwood, Victoria and is a happy gardener, yogi, and mother.

Course description

Seed Saving is an empowering skill that supports self-reliance and helps to promote biodiversity while providing the gardener with plants well adapted to local conditions. In this course, we review botanical reproduction to deeply understand the processes involved in seed production and then look at the techniques used to harvest and save medicinal plant seeds. Finally, we review germination to complete the full cycle of working with seeds. 

After completing this course you will have all the knowledge needed to effectively save your own seeds. You will be able to harvest seeds from many types of plants and will understand plant reproduction, enabling you to skillfully select the best time and method to save seeds.

During the course, we summarize seed saving techniques in a concise set of instructions. We also look in-depth at each step. You will gain an understanding of the best timing for harvest, methods for harvest based on seed type and shape, and how to select the best plants to save seeds from. Additional skills taught include drying seeds, storing seeds, testing saved seed, and germinating your seeds when you are ready to propagate new plants. 

To give you a thorough understanding of seed saving, we review aspects of plant reproduction and botanical anatomy that relate to fertilization and seed production. This includes the anatomy of a flower, anatomy of seeds, and various types of seeds and fruits. Understanding flower and fruit anatomy give us the knowledge needed to harvest seeds in a way that ensures our seeds are viable for future use. We look at 5 common families of widely used medicinal plants and learn about the unique features of each family’s fruits. 

We also discuss plant physiology and processes related to seed production and use, including plant life cycles, pollination, seed dispersal, and germination. In regards to pollination, we talk about open-pollinated and hybrid plants and discuss why and how a gardener may prevent cross-pollination. 

In addition to the practical skills that comprise the focus of the course, we discuss seed banks and seed longevity to understand the importance of saving organic seeds to support food security and maintain our access to valuable medicinal plants.

Upon completion of this course, you will have the ability to:

  • Understand the plant anatomy involved in reproduction, including flower anatomy and how this relates to plant reproduction seed saving
  • Know about different types of fruits/seeds and how seeds are dispersed in nature
  • Comprehend plant life cycles
  • Understand pollination and how this affects seed saving methods
  • Utilize practical skills related to seed saving and understand optimal timing and methods for harvesting seed
  • Dry and store harvested seeds and understand seed longevity
  • Utilize seeding techniques to ensure best results when working with your saved seed

Lesson plan

Section I | Welcome

1. Introduction

2. Course outline

Section II | Seed saving

3. Introduction to seed saving

Section III | Plant reproduction – how seeds are made

4. Plant reproduction – flowers

5. Seeds & fruit

6.Plant life cycles

7. Pollination

8. Plant reproduction review

Section IV | Doing it yourself – collecting seeds

9. How-to introduction

10. Seed shape & timing

11. Plant selection & harvesting methods

12. Drying, shelling, & storing seeds

13. Labeling & seed longevity

Section V | Seeding techniques

14. Seeding techniques

Section VI | Conclusion

15. Final course review