What is Seed Banking?

Seed banking is a method by seed scientists to try to help to combat the problem of the “disappearing cultivators.” Cultivators are the seeds of different varieties that big plant companies use to start their crop pf the certain plants. Cultivators can be picked from the plant or fruit and then stored for next year or they can be genetically modified in the seed before it is planted into the soil.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were varieties that make our “exotic varieties” today look plain. There were purple fleshed potatoes, white tomatoes, an blue peas. Yes, we have some of those varieties today, but we do not have the original seeds. We have genetically modified seeds. But back in the day, people didn’t think to try to save the seeds of some these varieties. They just planted what seeds they had and ate what the plants produced. If there was extra, they would store it for later. They wouldn’t try to actively save the seeds. One of the biggest reasons that seeds seed varieties died out was because of travels. Many people traveled and didn’t know that seeds were attached to their coats, shoes or other forms of clothing. The seeds fell of the clothing and grew. People didn’t know where these seeds came from and therefore could not document to what they were. When the plant grew, people didn’t try saving the seeds from the plants. The picture below is variety of white tomato that might resemble the white tomato of the 1920’s.


There are two main types of seeds that can’t be saved well: hybrid seed and heirloom seeds. Hybrid seeds are modified in the laboratory to produce a specific type of product. These seeds can be saved, but the seeds saved will not produce exactly what you originally had or they will not produce anything at all. This means that the seed is infertile. The seed had a “copyright”built into it so that amateur gardeners can’t replicate the outcome exactly. The other type of seed is the heirloom seed. This type of plant is grown in a similar area for many generations. The seeds of an heirloom variety can be saved, but it is best that they are planted in an area similar the the area that their ancestors were grown in.

One way to choose seeds to save is through selective breeding. Selective breeding is when the grower saves the seeds of the best plant or produce for use the next year. This method of saving helps the grower produce the best quality of produce each year. This also helps eliminate the poorer quality plants from the lot. People tend to buy the best looking plants and produce, so the grower that uses selective breeding makes more money that a grower that plants seeds and hopes for the best.

Another way to weed out the bad plants is to use crop diversity. Crop diversity is just the general term that groups both amateur growers and professional breeders. Amateur growers use selective breeding in their gardens. They choose what plants they want. If they like the outcome of that plant, they will save some seeds from it or buy the plant again next year. Because of amateur growing, we have many different varieties of cabbages. The other way to have crop diversity is by professional breeders. They restrict the breeding of certain seeds and plants by patents. These breeders manipulate factors in a laboratory to make the plants suitable to grow in different climates. This manipulation gives growers in the Southwest a different variety of the same plant or seed than the Midwest.

Seed banking is the active saving of seeds from the best plants from the current growing season for use in future growing seasons.



5 thoughts on “What is Seed Banking?

  1. Seed banking is a very interesting subject. I overall enjoyed reading and learning about the “disappearance of cultivators”. Although this was intriguing, it was semi-difficult to read. This is quite disorganized and cluttered. You tend to jump around many different subjects without leading up to each one. Also, there is a lack of pictures. I found the “white tomato” to be quite interesting, and would love to look at more pictures of food that the now extinct seeds produced back in the 1920s. A suggestion to making this post a little more organized and clear, is offering examples after stating the definition of something. For example, you state the definition of selective breeding as…”Selective breeding is when the grower saves the seeds of the best plant or produce for use the next year.” If I were you, I would then add examples of when and how this happens. By doing this, you will also answer the question of: What kind of produce is saved? Can it be any type of plant you want? What are the restrictions? And so on.

    Overall, this is a very interesting subject. I just feel it would make the information all that more exciting if it is more clear and contains transitions between each subject you touch upon. Finally, I would love to learn about how the factors that you covered are being introduced into the Desert Oasis Garden. I am sure you have a post related to how you are incorporating these factors into the garden, but just for this specific post I would talk a little about how and what you are doing in the garden.

    Great job.

    • I reread this post a couple of times. It made sense to me because this was my project. I didn’t realize that it was confusing for others to read. I apologize. Looking at you comments I realize that I will be adding more information to this blog posting to make sense for others to read. I will definitely rewrite parts of it with smoother transitions and include how I plan to do this at school. I appreciate the tips. Thanks.

  2. This is a perfect first post for a vast and very important topic. I love how you explain not only terms, but the history of seed banking (or lack there of) and *show* the importance today of seed banking instead of just stating that it’s important and assuming we believe you. I’m not quite clear on why it’s hard to save hybrid seeds. You say they are often infertile, but why? What does this have to do with the fact they are hybrid? Also how do these seeds have a “copyright” built into them? I don’t understand how that is possible and would like more explanation on that very interesting fact. Also is it important to have both amateur and professional growers? You talk about the differences and how they can produce different things, but I’m sort of left wondering about what to think of them in the end. Good format, great explanations, a very well researched introduction to seed banking, it’s just the right amount of information, but I may include another picture or two, as well as captioning what your picture is of.

  3. Good introduction to your project! I know you didn’t have much time to figure out what you wanted to do for you final project and am glad you found such a cool and important topic. I really like the picture you have and, while I think your post could use another image, I think it’s fine that you only have one. Early on you say “The seed had a “copyright”built into it so that amateur gardeners can’t replicate the outcome exactly.” I am really interested in the genetic modification of seeds but don’t know too much about it. I think it would be nice if you explained genetic copyrights more in this blog post. Good work!

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