What can you tell me about saving seed and associated disease issues?
Answer: Occasionally seed-borne diseases can be spread when saving seed. It is not very often that this occurs, however, and I wouldn’t discourage you from seed saving because of this. Two diseases that are more commonly spread via seed are black rot and Tomato Mosaic virus. It is important when saving seed to harvest seed from your healthiest plants. If there is any sign of disease, do not harvest seed from it.The exception in seed saving that you should be mindful of is “seed” or plants that are propagated vegetatively, such as potatoes and garlic. A host of diseases (and nematodes) are unfortunately carried in the tubers and can be transmitted once they are planted in the soil. Be sure to carefully inspect tubers and garlic bulbs to ensure that they do not have any blemishes or signs of disease in their production cycle and on the tubers themselves. I would also recommend an invaluable resource for seed saving titled Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth, if you do not have it already. It lists most types of garden seeds with specific directions for each one. Some seed saving can be complicated if the plants are cross pollinated and require isolation and hand pollination to save seed. This book outlines the best methods in doing this. It is available at www.seedsavers.org/onlinestore/SSE-Books/Seed-To-Seed.html. It is also available at a variety of retail outlets, so you might check your local bookstore or library.