Seed Making Tips for Landrace/Heirloom Reproduction/Preservation/Seed Increases.
Making more seeds of a variety is very easy to do, even for small home growers with limited space and plant count! With a little education, you can find out the best way for you to make seeds.
We encourage open pollination of any pure landrace or heirloom seed populations that you have. Open Pollination means growing as many seeds as you can, and allowing all the females to be pollinated by all the males. This preserves the entire spectrum of possibilities in the select gene pool, the strain as a collective of plants.
This is different than using 1 female x 1 male, which would narrow down the traits of the strain, and would be considered selective breeding. If you use only one selected plant, you miss out on the traits that many other plants in the gene pool have. This can be both good or bad, it depends on what your goal is. If you are trying to do goal oriented breeding, then you might want to narrow it down. But, we are speaking preservation here, and in preservation it is extremely important to use as many plants as possible to keep the wide range of phenotypes in a gene pool rather than eliminate the traits of the original strain through selective breeding.
A small grow tent, for example 3x3 or 2x4, can produce a few thousands seeds or even more. This means any small home grower can dedicate a space to seed making, and then spread their seeds to hundreds of growers, and keep a whole load of them for themselves for future growing. It’s very easy to reproduce a landrace/heirloom variety via open pollination, especially since it does not require any selective breeding skills! It is arguably even more important than selective breeding. Preservation means that we will continue to have these rare varieties in their entirety, in living seed lines, which can then be sifted through later to find special individual plants that can contribute to medicine production or even to breeding projects and unique hybrids, too. We need to preserve these original building blocks, for what they are and for what they can contribute, too!
We will give you tips on ways to make the seeds and then how to get them into the community!
A first time seed maker might feel intimidated, but it is extremely easy to do! It doesn’t take a lot of space to do a successful seed production. It also does not take much skill, in fact, plants do this in nature all by themselves!
It is possible to make seeds in a separate grow space without pollinating your main flower garden with a little care and planning. Or you can just dedicate one grow cycle to the project. You can also dry sift your seeded plants once they're done, and collect some amazing quality kief/resin from them during the de-seeding process!
We will teach you how to do an open pollination, seed increase. If you have just a few seeds of a pure rare variety, you can multiply that to a few thousand! We do recommend using as many plants as possible for a true landrace reproduction, to keep the maximum expressive diversity of the strain intact.
Growers who want a lesser amount of seeds can collect pollen and individually pollinate select branches of their plants. However, we are trying to encourage larger scale seed production by everyone, so there will be enough for them to share or sell to the community and reach a lot of gardens!
Let’s make it simple and lay out the basics. In the flowering stage, female plants grow buds, and the buds grow seeds when pollinated by pollen. Pollen is produced by a male plant.
Making more seeds of a variety means you’ll pollinate the females with pollen from the males. This can be done by simply flowering them in the same space, and allowing the males to drop their pollen into the air. When the pollen lands on the white hairs of the female flower, it becomes fertilized, and seeds develop in the buds.
Seeds can develop in about 4 weeks, sometimes faster, and sometimes slower. It’s best practice to allow the seeds to fully develop and then some, letting plants ripen a couple weeks longer once you see fully hardened and finished seeds, means that more and more seeds in the plant will ripen up fully and be nice and healthy!
A simple grow tent is a great way to contain the pollen from getting everywhere. An exhaust fan, duct, and carbon filter (ideally pulling air out at the top of your tent) and a passive intake near the bottom of the tent is all you need for air flow. This creates negative pressure, the tent will suck in, and when pollen is flying around, you can open the tent a small amount without pollen escaping much into the surrounding room!
A few tips for landrace open pollination: When males start to flower and the pollen sacks are about to open, shut off the circulation fan in the tent (keep the exhaust fans going!) Because some males will drop pollen earlier than others, you don’t want the first male pollinating everything completely, before the other males have any time to contribute. By limiting movement inside, and avoiding touching the males during this time, you can be sure that even if the early males drop some pollen before they all do, they won’t steal the entire show. After a week or two when all the males are producing pollen, it’s go time!
Before pollinating, water your plants, cause things are about to get messy, and you won’t want to water them while there’s a crazy amount of pollen in the air and all over your plants.
At this point I like to use a garden stake to smack all the males, which releases massive pollen clouds into the air and will result in full pollination. Females should have lots of white hairs when you do this, those are what capture the pollen and allow the process to form a seed.
When smacking the males to release the pollen, I recommend keeping the tent closed, with just a tiny opening, unzip an inch or few inches, so you can stick a stake in and smack them with it while looking in through the small opening and seeing what you’re doing. Some tents also have a clear viewing window that could come in handy. Once the pollen from all the males is in the air you can turn your circulation fan back on for some hectic wind flow, making sure pollen reaches all areas of your flowers.
You can repeat this process a few days in a row to make sure you got really good pollen coverage. The pollen only takes 3 hours to take hold and the seed begins it’s journey into existence. Visible signs of successful pollination can take hours to a week to show, depending on many factors! The hairs will often change colors and recede or shrivel. 1-2 weeks after, you should be able to see seeds developing. Some strains show their seeds more than others, and some are hidden deeper within the buds so you won’t see them till the de-seeding process.
When you’re ready after pollinating, a day later or so, you can then spray down all the plants with plain water which deactivates stray pollen. When I’m done with the males I like to open the tent just at the bottom and crawl in, snipping the males at the base of the stem. Have a trash bag ready in the tent with you and carefully get the males in there and close the trash bag in the tent, then spray it all down with water (you’ve probably noticed pollen going everywhere while disposing of the males, that’s why negative pressure in the tent helps, and bagging them up in the tent is ideal.) Water deactivates pollen.
Keep in mind that YOU will be covered in pollen at this point, too, and it can easily spread from your hair, skin, clothing, into the air or onto other plants, so jump directly into the shower. I usually do the male disposal with minimal clothing on as to not shake pollen all over the place when taking off clothes that are full of pollen. Be mindful of the pollen if you have other plants flowering somewhere. It is good practice to wash down the floors, walls, and surfaces nearby.
Now that your plants are fully pollinated and the males have been removed, the rest is smooth sailing. Take care of your plants as they complete their flower cycle where they will be ripening an insane amount of seeds inside them. Seeds are usually done by 6 weeks after pollination occurs, and letting them go a bit extra long is beneficial to increasing the amount of viable finished seed you get! Some varieties will take longer or shorter amounts of time to finish seed, and long flowering varieties generally ripen their seeds much quicker than their full flowering time for seedless buds!
When seeds are finished, you can harvest by cutting them at the base and hang them to dry. It’s good to put a tag on each plant as well, so there is no way you can mix them up or forget what anything is. I tag them before pollination personally. I will always write a tag like this: Afghani #7 x Afghani Males - 4-20-22 Using the strain name, applicable phenotype numbers, female x male, and the date of pollination (or date of harvest if you prefer, or both) Keep all this info with your seeds when you bag the seeds up later. Some like to keep each female’s offspring separate, and retain the information on smell, flavor, or effect of each female. Others like to mix them all, it’s an open pollination anyways!
Once plants have dried (overdrying is ideal for easy seed removal) you can take it over your trim tray and crush all the buds up as much as possible using your hands, while collecting the resin through the screen! You can then sift the seeds out of the plant material. This can be done by hand using various methods of sifting or can be done using a seed cleaning machine by more serious seed producers. I recommend getting or making a seed cleaning machine if you are working with large quantities of seeds. The classic wooden pinball style one with a vacuum can be made easily or purchased.
After drying and de seeding, the seeds should be left to relax for about 1 month around room temperature. Then, they should become ready to germinate!
Seeds can be stored at room temperature (away from light and heat sources) for a while, a couple years or so. They can last many more years in the refrigerator, where they must be protected from the humidity inside a fridge! To do this, I like to put them in a plastic bag and then vacuum seal them (twice!)
You don’t want to frequently bring them between fridge and room temperature over and over again, so you may want to leave some out, and vacuum seal a few different packages of them of various sizes to save in the fridge for later times.
It is said that organically grown seeds have a much longer shelf life than chemically grown (nute lines) seeds. This has been my experience with the seeds I’ve purchased from various producers over the years, as well. So I do encourage (for many reasons) that you grow your seeds organically and without the use of synthetic fertilizers or gardening products. If you must use synthetics, it has been said that seeded plants perform best with a vegetative nutrient feed! All seeds are seeds and if you grow with love you can grow any way that you are comfortable!