Around the Island

Seed saving workshop

Autumn is here and it’s time to save seeds for next season. Home gardeners can learn the process on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 11 a.m. at the Sylvester Manor Farm stand. It is a joint effort between the manor and the Shelter Island Seed Library. 

Jocelyn Craig, the manor’s windmill field manager, will lead the workshop and demonstrate how to harvest, process and preserve heirloom seeds from home gardens and purchased produce for planting next year. 

“She will talk about which seeds are easiest to save and why and demonstrate tips and techniques for saving your own seeds,” said Tracey McCarthy, director of operations at the manor. “Attendees will leave with a selection of seeds collected from the field.” 

Seed saving is a growing movement that encourages the growing of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds in order to preserve the genetic diversity of plants available to gardeners, farmers and future generations. While open-pollinated plants produce seeds that will grow into plants very similar to the parent plant with the possibility of slight and subtle variations, hybrids have been bred with two distinct parent lines. Collecting seeds from a hybrid plant doesn’t guarantee that they will grow into a plant that resembles the parent. Instead, it may have attributes from either of the parent lineages. On a local level, seed saving is a way to select for varieties and traits that are well-adapted to local growing conditions.

Island seed savers can then donate to, or rent from, the seed library, which works a lot like a book library. Gardeners browse its collection of seeds located in the Shelter Island Library and “check them out” to plant and grow in a home or community garden. While there is no obligation (or late fee) for not returning seeds, the Seed Library crew hope that both experienced and novice seed savers will return seeds at the end of the season and share new ones they’ve grown and harvested.  

“Our library has vegetables, herbs and flowers. There are some unusual varieties,” said Jocelyn Ozolins, head of reference at SIL, who helped create the seed library.

Register at the library or call 631-749-0042. The class is free.