Except in special cases, it pays the gardener to buy seed from
reputable seeds men and not to depend on home-grown supplies. Very
fine varieties that do extremely well in certain areas have been
grown for long periods from locally produced seed, and such
practices are to be commended, provided adequate measures are
taken to keep the strains pure.
Vegetables that are entirely, or readily, cross-pollinated among
plants of their kind include corn, cucumbers, melons, squash,
pumpkins, cress, mustard, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower,
collards, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, onion, radish, beet, and
turnip. Those less readily cross-pollinated are eggplant, pepper,
tomato, carrot, and celery. Beans, peas, okra, and lettuce are
generally self-pollinated, but occasionally cross-pollinated, lima
beans sometimes rather extensively.
Because sweet corn will cross with field corn, it is unwise to
save sweet corn seed if field corn is growing in the same
neighborhood. Hybrid sweet corn should not be saved for seed. The
custom of saving seed from a choice watermelon is safe, provided
no citrons or other varieties of watermelons are growing nearby.
Likewise, seed from a muskmelon is safe, even though it was grown
side by side with cucumbers.
Beans do not readily cross and their seed also may be saved.
Cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, collards, broccoli, and cauliflower all
intercross freely, so each must be well isolated from the others
if seed is to be saved.
Seeds should be ordered well in advance of planting time, but
only after the preparation of a garden plan that shows the size of
the plantings and the quantity of seed required. Crops and
varieties that are known to be adapted to the locality should be
The agricultural experiment station of each State, local
Extension agents, and experienced gardeners are usually able to
give advice about varieties of vegetables that are adapted to the
area. Standard sorts of known quality and performance are usually
the best choice.
Disease-resistant strains and varieties of many important
vegetables are now so generally available that there is little
reason for risking the loss of a crop through planting susceptible
sorts. This phase of the subject is treated in detail under the
Some seeds retain their vitality longer than others. Seeds may
be divided into three groups as follows: (1) Comparatively
short-lived, usually not good after 1 to 2 years�corn, leek,
onion, parsley, parsnip, rhubarb and salsify; (2) moderately
long-lived, often good for 3 to 5 years�asparagus, beans,
brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, kale,
lettuce, okra, peas, pepper, radish, spinach, turnip and
watermelon; and (3) long-lived, may be good for more than 5 years
cucumber, eggplant, muskmelon, and tomato.
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