Dyfi Valley Seed Savers

About Us

Dyfi Valley Seed Savers

Dyfi Valley Seed Savers is a not-for-profit organisation, based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, and run mainly by volunteers. We promote the saving and swapping of seed with the aim of…

Our projects include the Welsh Vegetable Project which is discovering local vegetable varieties and bringing them back into cultivation in the area. We’re also compiling The Apple Mach Register – a record of apple varieties being grown locally.

There are plenty of ways to get involved with DVSS, whatever your interests. Come along to one of our events, help us organise and advertise a workshop, tell us what’s growing in your garden, try out a heritage vegetable…


A Fond Farewell!
Friday, 27 March 2015 14:55
We at Dyfi Valley Seed Savers are sad to say that the group has been wound up, and the reserves given to Gerddi Bro Ddyfi Gardens (GBD), an amazing therapeutic community garden here in Machynlleth.

Eventually, all the information on this website will migrate over to : broyeur vegetaux professionnel


Don’t worry, our fabulous seed saving and plant swap events haven’t disappeared from the Machynlleth diary.

On 25th April, GBD will host an open day for the community at Y Plas Machynlleth.

10 - 4pm, with refreshments, garden tours, talks, stalls, dancing, music and children’s activities.

Thank you for your interest and support over the years.

Tammi Dallaston, on behalf of DVSS members past and present

Seedy Sunday 16th March 2014!
Monday, 10 March 2014 21:53

DVSS annual seed swap event is back for another year! Date/Time: 16th March 2014, 10:00am - 3:00pm Venue: Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth
As usual, bring seeds to swap.
Guidance: Label with genus and variety. No seeds over two years old please. Potted and labelled seedlings welcome.

Entry: By donation
There will be kids activities, raffle, food, tea and cakes, music and sunshine (hopefully).

Stalls: Tools For Self Reliance, Fresh & Local, Coed Heddwch Tree Nursery, Gerddi Bro Ddyfi Gardens, Mair’s Bakehouse, Made in Mach and Dyfi Land Share.

10:00 - 11:00 Ann Owen (‘Sustenance and storing food’)

11:00 - 12:00 John Mason (‘Bringing a bombsite into cultivation: 5 years of growing my own from the start’)

12:00 - 13:00 Emma Maxwell (Talk on Cultivate, Newtown)

13:00 - 14:00 GQT (Ann Owen, John Mason & Emma Maxwell)

14:00 - 14:20 Dyfi Land Share workshop on Landsharing
14:00 - 14:30 Cycle Dyfi workshop on brakes
14:20 - 15:00 Edible Mach planning session.

All welcome!

Contact Gráinne at: info@dyfivalleyseedsavers.org.uk

Seedy Sunday - 17th March
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:34

17th MARCH 2013

Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machylleth, SY20 8DR

10am - 3pm

This year’s event is being held in March, rather than the traditional February. We have a shorter growing season here compared to more southern climes of the UK, and it has been a particularly long winter this year, so this year we are trialling the combination of Seedy Sunday and Seedling Saturday.

DVSS shall also be organising a new Harvest Festival style event in early October – watch out for a local celebration of perennial plants; advice on saving and storing local tree seed varieties; sharing food preserves; a competition of ‘interestingly shaped’ veg; making fruit cordials; book signings and talks.

Watch this space :)

Getting Started

For many vegetables, it’s easy to save seed alongside harvesting your normal crop.

The simplest vegetables to save seed from are those that flower within their first year (annuals) and that naturally self pollinate (inbreeders). To maintain diversity you will need to save seed from a minimum number of plants, depending on the vegetable. To keep the variety pure they need to be grown a minimum distance away from other varieties of that vegetable. (See Top Tips for Seed Saving)

Here are some good ones to start with -

Peas - Grow the crop as you would for eating, but not right next to another pea variety. Save seeds from around 10 plants by leaving the pods on the plants to dry. Then pod the seeds by hand.

Climbing French Beans - Get them off to an early start by sowing in pots in April, then planting out after the risk of frost. Grow at least 10 metres away from any other Climbing French Bean. Save seed from around 20 plants, by letting the pods dry on the plants, or if the weather is wet, uproot the plants and hang in a dry place. Pod the seeds by hand. Runner bean seeds can be saved in the same way, but they need to be grown at least 800m away from another variety to maintain purity.

Lettuce - When lettuce “bolt” they are sending up a flower spike which will produce seeds with white fluffy parachutes a bit like a dandelion. Sow your lettuce early in the year and at least 8 metres away from any other lettuce varieties. Let a few plants bolt. The flower heads may need staking at they can reach about 1.5m high. Collect seed from one or two plants by shaking the heads into a paper bag on a sunny afternoon.

Squashes - Squashes will cross pollinate, so grow only one variety - and check what your neighbours are growing. Harvest ripe fruit from 2 or three plants and leave to ripen further for about 3 weeks. Rinse the seed in a sieve, lay out to dry on a sunny windowsill, turning occasionally.

Tomatoes - Most tomatoes are self pollinating, with the exception of some currant varieties, potato leaved varieties and double blossoms on beefsteak varieties. Self pollinating varieties have their female stigma enclosed inside the male anther tube. Varieties that can cross pollinate have a protruding stigma, so check your flowers to make sure. Gather fully ripe fruits from at least 2 different plants. Scoop the seed out and clean in a sieve under cold running water. Spread the seed out on a paper towel to dry. The seed will stick to the paper, but you can sow it by burying the paper the next spring.

Store your seed somewhere cool and dry and remember to label with the variety, year of collection and any isolation measures taken.

More difficult vegetables…

More ticky veg to save seed from incude carrots, parsnips, leeks, cabbage and kale. These all flower in their second year, so forward planning is needed. They are also “out breeders” meaning that a lot of plants need to be gown and measures may need to be taken to keep the variety pure. However, by taking on one of these more “difficult” vegetables you are making an even bigger contribution to preserving vegetable diversity. You will produce a large quantity of seed which will go a long way at a seed swap. Or you could become a Heritage Seed Library Seed Guardian.

Outbreeders. You may decide not to control the pollination of an outbreeder. You can still save viable seed, but you will begin to lose the characteristics of that variety. Many people do this for their own use, but if giving the seed to a seed swap please note it on the packet that the variety was not isolated.

Seed Circles. A Seed Circle is a group of people who all pledge to save a seed of a different vegetable and distribute the seeds among the group. So you can save the seeds of just one vegetable and receive seeds of 5 or 6 in return. Use our forum to make contact with others who may want to start a seed circle.

Recomended books

Heritage Vegetables - The Gardeners’ guide to Cultivating Diversity, Sue Stickland. Gaia Books

Back Garden Seed Saving, Sue Stickland. Ecologic Books

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, Carol Deppe. Chelsea Green Publishing Co. (Available in Machynlleth Library)

Or join the Heritage Seed Library to gain access to their seed saving factsheets on the web.

Top Tips for Seedsaving

You don’t need a lot of specialist knowledge to start saving seeds - it can be as easy as drying a handful of beans at the end of the summer. However, some vegetables are easier than others, and if you want to be really successful there are a few simple principles to bear in mind.

The Birds and the Bees

Well, mainly the bees. Seeds come from flowers, which is where plant-sex happens. Pollen, which is just sperm in a yellow coating is transferred from a male part to a female part. When it gets to the female part it joins with an egg and makes a seed. Different types of plant have sex in slightly different ways – some use the wind to transfer pollen, some use bees and other insects. Some flowers will pollinate themselves, some like to be pollinated by a flower from another plant. The different ways plants make their seed effects how we save it.

Innies and Outies

Most plants can be described as inbreeders or outbreeders. An inbreeder will usually pollinate itself so the daughter plants will be just like their parents. Saving seeds of inbreeders such as tomatos and lettuce is really easy. An outbreeder likes to cross pollinate with other plants. This means that when saving the seed of an outbreeder you need to control their pollination in some way. This can mean keeping a distance between your outbreeding vegetable and other vegetables in the same family, or putting a mesh cage around them when they flower.

If you want to keep your vegetable the same from year to year, it pays to know whether it is an inbreeder or an outbreeder, and the normal method of pollination. This is often obvious from the shape of the flower, but you can also look it up in books.

Choosing your plant

Gather your seed from your best plants. Consider how well the plant has grown (not just the fruit), how productive it was, what it tasted like, and how resistant it was to pests and diseases. Try not to eat all the best ones!

A plant variety will be more adaptable and vigorous if it keeps a good diversity of genes. This means growing a good number of plants to save seed from, especially if it is an outbreeder.


Seeds are processed differently depending on whether they are dry (eg peas) or wet (eg tomatoes). Collecting dry seeds is relatively straightforward. Let them get really ripe and as dry as possible on the plant. Then remove the seeds from the pods for storage. The Welsh weather often makes this difficult, but if rain threatens, you can pull up the whole plant and hang it up under cover to finish drying.

Seeds that develop inside fruits are a bit more tricky. Leave the fruit to get really ripe before you collect it, then scrape the seed out as best you can and wash and dry it. Try using a sieve or tea strainer for little ones. Dry your seeds in a warm airy place, but not in the oven or direct sunshine as both will damage the seed and impair germination next year.


Label your seeds carefully with the vegetable, variety and year of harvesting. Store in cool, dark conditions with a stable temperature (above freezing). Keep your seeds in paper bags and out of danger from mice.

Why Save Seeds?

Because it preserves our vegetable diversity

It is thanks to seed savers that many of our vegetables are still in existence. Varieties which are not profitable for seed companies would go extinct without gardeners saving the seed. We are already seeing increasingly unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change. Preserving as many plant varieties as possible gives us the best chance of finding those which will adapt to new conditions and diseases.

Because your veg will be suited to where you live

Commercial plant breeders also like varieties that will grow relatively well all over the coun- try. But it’s far more useful to have plant that will do really well in the particular conditions where you live. A variety that has been developed in Wales is likely to be better adapted to our climate and conditions than one from Kent for example.

Because it saves money

Many vegetable varieties sold by big seed companies are F1 hybrids. These come from plants which have been carefully crossed and are often very productive. The down side is that any seeds you collect won’t be ‘true-to-type’ – that is, they won’t be the same as their parents. This might be fine if you like experimenting, but if you want the same F1 plants you’ll have to buy more seed. If you save some of your own non-hybrid seed and swap with friends you’ll be saving money every year.

Because it celebrates our plant heritage

Each variety of fruit and vegetable has its own special character, and heirloom varieties often have a fascinating story behind them. The best way to safeguard this is to keep growing them, so we have a living library of plant heritage. This also means that the variety can continue evolving and adapting. We can preserve seed in a seed bank, but we can only really enjoy them if they are in our gardens as well.


Forthcoming Events

Seedy Sunday 2013

Sunday 17th March, Machynlleth

It’s the eight annual Seedy Sunday, at Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth on Sunday 17th March, 10.00am - 3.00pm

Talks from permaculture teachers Chris Dixon and Steve Jones, market gardener Ann Owen, Emma Maxwell from the RHS and Chloe Ward, fruit specialist and founder of the Apple Mach register.

Tools For Self Reliance will be there, offering a range of sturdy reconditioned gardening tools for sale, to support their fantastic work in Africa.

There will also be stalls from Fresh and Local, Annie’s Tree Nursery, CAT, Green Isle Growers, Dyfi Valley Land Share - all promoting local growing and food; and the traditional Local Gardeners’ Question Time where you can ask experts from CAT, the RHS and professional market gardeners all your pressing questions.

There will be something for all the family with delicious cakes and lunch from Tammi’s Table, creative activities, cake decorating and face-painting too!

“Come along to Seedy Sunday and start to plan the garden of the future!”


Growing Fruit in Powys

Are you thinking of planting an orchard?

More and more people are recognising the importance of orchards and their potential to enhance the landscape, increase biodiversity, provide local food and bring communities together.

Sadly however, fruit growing in Wales has dwindled in recent decades, along with the associated knowledge and skills. Many varieties which thrive in southern parts of the UK do not do well in the wet Powys climate, so there is a need to revive our local knowledge of fruit growing.

In response to this the Dyfi Valley Seed Savers conducted a survey of orchards in Powys (funded by Glasu) from 2009 to 2010. We surveyed 22 orchards and gathered the experiences of fruit growers all over Powys.

The results are included in our report ‘Growing Fruit in Powys’. We hope it will enable future orchardists to make more informed decisions, by learning from those who are already growing fruit in our locality.

The report includes -

The Apple Mach Register

Do you have an apple tree in your garden? The Apple Mach Register is a record of apple varieties growing in the Dyfi Valley. It tells us which grow and fruit well in our climate and gives local people the opportunity to propagate their own trees from proven varieties.

Do you have an apple tree in your garden? The Apple Mach Register is a record of apple varieties growing in the Dyfi Valley. It tells us which grow and fruit well in our climate and gives local people the opportunity to propagate their own trees from proven varieties.

Browsing the supermarket shelves, you would not guess that over 2,000 varieties of apple can be grown in the UK. Each has its unique taste, as well as other qualities such as early fruiting, long storage life, disease resistance, or especially beautiful blossom. Some varieties have facinating links to their localities such as the Bardsey Island and Pig Aderyn apples.

Please send us details about your tree(s) by completing the Apple Mach form. If you don’t know what kind of apple you have tell us about it anyway - you may be able to get it identified at an “Apple Day” (see the Common Ground website on the links page for Apple Days which are usually held in October).

Each year in February/March we hold a grafting workshop at which you can propagate a variety from the register and take home your newly-grafted tree. So you can eat apples choosen for their taste instead of how well they can withstand being trucked to the supermarket.

Welsh Vegetable Project

Several years ago the Heritage Seed Library did a UK wide call for seed so that they could store and maintain seeds to preserve our diversity of vegetables. At the time of appeal, there were not many seeds donated in from Wales.

In 2010, we continued that search for seeds special to Wales and with the seeds that were donated in to us, we trialled them with growers in Powys. For more information, read the project report above.

Web Links