I think that plants are pretty clever, really – a whole plant grows from a seed the size of a grain of sand & in a few short weeks gives you loads of great tasting food then set zillions of seeds per plant & off we go again.
Given that plants do this pretty readily off their own bat, it might be considered a bit rich that the seed companies charge even a couple of quid for a packet of seeds. Nonetheless, they do exactly that.
Of course, there are circumstances that the cost of seeds is justified – breeding reliable plants which have desirable properties (i.e. are tasty & pest resistant) costs seed companies an awful lot of money, which is reflected in the price, but that doesn’t explain why it costs the same to buy the seeds of old fashioned open pollinated varieties which breed true to the next generation down the line which gardeners have been growing for years.
The seeds of these plants which fall into the ‘breed true’ category & can be saved by anyone & sown the next year with confidence include peas, French beans & tomatoes.
Those which cross-breed with other varieties & so the outcome of the next generation grown is a bit of a lottery include brassicas, lettuce & squash. So I save pea & bean seeds, leeks & this year I’m saving parsnip seeds to see if they will grow ok next year.
A couple of parsnip sprouted big flower heads with clusters of yellow flowers – I chopped off all but two of the largest heads, & the seeds are formed & are now starting to ripen. I suspect that the trick will be to leave them on the plants long enough to mature, but not long enough for the seed to drop & seed themselves where they stand…