Tales of a Gardening Novice: Seed-Saving

My first seasons of gardening have been glorious. I’ve plotted, planted, harvested, and plotted again. But what do you do next? As a novice gardener, I’ve found that there are always things to do, particularly if you want to remain as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible. Beginning to save your seeds is as self-sufficient as you can get, though it’s a bit trickier than it sounds.

To start, it is important to purchase seed varieties that are not of the hybrid form. The second generation of these cross-pollinated, saved-seeds produces fruit that is tough and tasteless. Purchasing organic, non-hybrid seeds will aid in reducing the chance of experiencing this outcome, though there are still plenty of factors to consider.

As a beginner, it is important to start small. There are particular varieties of vegetables that are primarily self-pollinated and that begin to produce seeds for saving the first year they are harvested. These plants include: tomatoes, peppers, peas, lettuce, beans, and some varieties of squash.

Seed Saving

Pictured above are the seeds to a butternut squash I have saved, a mostly self-pollinated variety that is likely to produce a wonderful second generation plant!

Now comes the fun part. When harvesting for seed-saving, choose fruits that are your plant’s best-self. Retain these prize-winning seeds and separate them from the flesh of the fruit. Rinse and thoroughly dry them, before spreading them on a cookie sheet or plate. Find an area that is not particularly warm and does not have too much sun. Let the seeds dry completely. Place into a small envelope or jar, marked by the variety of seed contained within.  Store in a cool, dark place.

For more information on particular varieties, and how to save their seeds, I encourage you to visit this website.  It’s a wonderful resource, and does a great job breaking down the basics, and not-so-basics of seed-saving.

For organic seeds that won’t break the bank, try American Meadows, for beautiful seed-saving envelopes check out these, and coming soon: How to Make Your Own Seed-Saving Envelopes.

What about you?  What have been your experiences with seed-saving?

The End of Harvest

This past weekend, I harvested the last bits of bounty from my garden.  I then spent the next several hours turning and preparing my plot for next year, and even marked off an additional area that I will be planting next spring.  The act solidified the coming of winter, and the rapid speed in which we are tearing through fall.  We’ve already experienced a few freezes over night, and I’ve begrudgingly had to scrape frost off of my car windows on more occasions than I am willing to admit to at this time of year.  Even so, the feeling of definite seasons is indescribable.  Frozen toes aside, I wouldn’t trade this for the world!

Coming soon: seed-saving & drying herbs

A few snapshots of the last of my bounty:

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Spaces: Week No. 2

Here are a few of my favorite spaces this week:

Thom Filica Lakehouse | Midwestern Musing

  This lake house living room by Thom Filica, sourced from Home Adore.

Peter Dunham Study | Midwestern Musing

 This study designed by Peter Dunham.

Peter Dunham Living Room | Midwestern Musing

 This living room by Peter Dunham.

Gary McNournie Boathouse Living Room | Midwestern Musing

 This Nantucket boathouse living space by Gary McBournie.

Gary McBournie Boathouse Kitchen | Midwestern Musing

 This Nantucket boathouse kitchen by Gary McBournie.

Deborah French Designs Living Room | Midwestern Musing

 This living space, but most of all the orange sofa, designed by Deborah French.

DIY: Laundry Detergent

One of the easiest ways to make an eco-friendly, cost-effective change to your habits around the house is to switch up your laundering patterns. A great place to start is with your detergent. There are recipes for liquid detergent all over the inter-web, but I prefer to go dry-style. Frankly, there are less steps, and my little one appreciates that she gets to grate down soap. Two birds, one stone.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 bar of soap

Use 1 tbs. per load.

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First, grate down your soap with a cheese grater. This is fun, and I think the delicate curls of soap are pretty.

IMG_3120Then, combine the washing soda, Borax, and soap curls.

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Store in a container, in a dry place.

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In my daughter’s words, “it’s easy peasy lemon squeazy.”