Thursday, August 27, 2015

Garden Tip Thursday- Saving Your Summer Seeds

Saving your own seeds can be easy and well worth the time, but only if your plants were heirloom or traditional varieties. Seeds from Hybrid plants very rarely produce the same result in following years. The seeds have been engineered to produce a certain kind of plant and that doesn't always pass along fully to the seeds.

Not seeing any seeds from some of your produce, not to worry not all plants produce seeds their first year. These are your biennial varieties, like cabbage, beets and other root vegetables. Some climates are friendly enough to plants that they can survive the winter and then produce the greens and seed pods for collection. Most areas this isn't possible, so go ahead and order your carrot seeds for next spring.

When collecting seeds from fleshy vegetables, such as tomatoes and melons, you will want to wait to pick them until the are fully ripe, maybe even a bit over ripe. This will give the seeds time to mature. 
Beans and corn should be left to dry on their own before being picked for seeds. Make sure to be picky about which plants you pick from. These will be your basis for next years garden and you want the ones who are the most robust and healthy, these are also the ones who have shown that they have adapted well to Your Garden's environment.

Fleshy seeds can be scooped out by hand or with a spoon and then spread over a paper plate or paper towel to dry. Remove as much of the moisture and flesh (veggie) as you can, so that you have mainly seeds left.  Make sure that they have a good current of air so they don't mold. We use the paper plate idea because we can write the variety of seed right on the plate. Small seeds all tend to start looking like and I know I have so much going on I can often forgot exactly which plate had my favorite Cherokee Purple Tomatoes on it.

 Corn can be picked when the kernels have "dented" tops, this confirms that they have dried. Beans should be hard and the pods crackly. Keep any eye on them this can happen quickly at the end of summer and you don't want to share all of your hard work with the birds!

Also if you have planted marigolds, keep an eye on them also. They often produce a wispy seed on the flower heads. one flower can produce a lot of seeds and can be blown about your garden. They are great for your garden but you'd might not like to have them every where..

How  you store your seeds is also important. If it's a smaller seed, like tomato or pepper you can keep them in a small coin envelope. We get ours from an office supply store, the size fits well into a trading card holding page that we then put into a binder. For larger seeds, Pumpkin or squash they can be kept in glass jars with a tight fitting lid. But only once they are dried. No matter how you store make sure that you list the variety of seed and when it was harvested. If kept in a cool, dry place seeds can last for many years. This year we planted pumpkin seeds that we harvested 4 years ago and they are growing great. We did have to hide them from E, roasted pumpkin seeds are one of her favorite fall treats! So when you are harvesting your pumpkins make sure to get enough to go around..

As with every thing else that is related to growing your own foods, prices are climbing every year. We get a couple of very nice seed catalogs and I always buy a few exotic seeds as well as seeds for our root veggies but we have come to depend on our saved seeds to save us just a bit more. I hope this information helps you to save seeds and a bit of money at the same time!

Check back next Thursday for another Fall garden idea. Cover Crops!!
I hope you're enjoying your share of dirt this week...