Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seed saving has been going on for thousands of years.  Seed saving is easy.  Always save the seed from the best vegetable you grew! Or the tastiest you buy at the farmers market or store.  

Pick the fruit or plant that has the characteristics you want to grow next year.  The one that was the biggest or had the best taste or produced the most or produced the longest or gave you harvests the earliest or was the most drought or pest resistant.  

Lettuce flower buds
One caveat, you cannot get true to parent plants from hybrids.  If they grow, they will often be totally different than the parent or could get weaker with each generation.  You need “open pollinated” or heirloom vegetables for the seed to produce a baby like the parent.

I grew sweet banana peppers and saved the seed.  This year I grew out the seeds from the yellow banana peppers.  I got a larger red and orange pepper plants from the seed.  They are quite tasty and prolific.  I have saved the seed to grow out again next year.

There is also another pepper plant that produced prolifically a purple meaty sweet pepper.  I have saved the seed from this plant to grow them again next year.

I have finally found/grown two kinds of sweet peppers that produce well.  I'll keep saving the seed and growing them out.  They are now a mainstay for my garden.

It doesn't cost a thing to save seeds from store bought veggies or fruits you like and you can end up with some great plants for your garden!
For garlic, you save the best, biggest cloves.  You divide up the garlic head into individual cloves and plant them in the fall when it cools off.  Typically, sometime in October.  Most store garlic has been treated to prevent them from sprouting so you may or may not have luck using the ones from the grocery store.  Your farmers market is a great place to get garlic well suited for your area.
In our garden, seeds can be saved from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, cilantro, dill, celery, borage, salad burnet, garlic, okra, Egyptian walking onions (bulblets), basil.  I had many zinnia and basil "volunteers" in the garden this year from seeds dropped by the plant last fall.

Lettuce flower seeds
For peppers, squash and tomatoes, just scoop out the seeds, lay them on a paper towel on a plate and let them dry completely.  Some suggest for tomato seed to put them in water and let them ferment a bit.  The ones that sink are the ones you want to keep for planting, not the ones that float.  After drying, I put in plastic baggies and keep in the frig to prolong seed life.

Many greens, like chard, parsley, lettuce, broccoli, will shoot a large stalk up then flower.  This is called "bolting."  The easiest thing to do is to let the seeds form, cut the stalk, then put the stalks with seed heads attached into a paper bag.  Let them dry thoroughly, then shake the seeds out.  Some may require that you roll the seed heads between your fingers to free the seed.  

You can actually resow seeds from cool season crops like lettuce, cilantro, parsley, chard, chives and get a second fall/winter harvest!  I have been doing this about every other week.  I have lettuce sprouting from the last two sowings.  When it cools down a bit, I will separate and transplant into pots and the garden.  Right now, I am keeping them in a long starter pot on the covered deck to keep them from bolting in the hot sun.
I put my dried seeds in labelled ziplock bags and store them in the crisper, include the seed type, descriptor and date.  A picture of the plant can be helpful to remember the plant the seed belongs to.  Fun gift to give, too.  The seeds last for years this way!

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