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?

Tales from a Gardening Novice: No 2

A funny thing happened upon our return from vacation– everything in my garden is in bloom, or is at least doing what it is supposed to do. What I may not have told you is that this is my first garden, which means I am truly experiencing a gardening adventure. The only part of my plot that I “planned” was the effort I put into planting beneficial flowers between certain crops, knowing they would attract pollinators. (If you haven’t caught the memo yet, pollinators make the world go round. Love them; attract them; coddle them.) For the majority of the time, however, I have no idea what I’m doing. I am learning by the tried-and-true method of experimentation that I like to call “you win some you lose some.”

Here are some of my garden’s current happenings:

Pole Beans

Pole Beans

The grape tomatoes are on their way to ripening!

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I think this corn has about two more growth stages before it produces ears and can be harvested.

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These daisies are some of my favorite flowers. Their long stems are so enticing.

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Snapdragons

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So, celebrating my garden’s success is a must, because there really is nothing more exciting than seeing your garden flourish after all of the time and worry you put into it! Then again, I really can’t give myself all the credit. I have to thank the soil and the pollinators before I pat myself on the back. Those wee little things make big things possible.