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

In truth, I am a gardening novice. I like to think that I have genetically inherited both my grandmother’s and my mother’s innate ability to grow things, but it just isn’t so. The majority of plants that thrive in my garden are low-maintenance, or recurring bulbs and perennials that would have to be seriously neglected in order to fail. Most of the tidbits I’ve learned along the way are due to the loss of a plant. Sad, but true.

On the contrary, composting is one of those garden-y things that I can proudly say I have mastered. I’m a no nonsense compost-er, paying little attention to my pile. Sometimes I water it, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I turn it, mostly I don’t. Sometimes I aerate it, actually no, that’s never happened. Somehow though, my pile of scraps and lawn trimmings still turns into black gold.

It’s the most amazing sequence of events, this whole composting thing. All those little critters living inside are gorging themselves on my “trash,” while simultaneously churning out one of the only good things I can claim I’ve done for my garden.

So here’s to you, you tiny decomposers! Thank you for your poo. I promise to keep feeding you left over flower bouquets, egg shells, coffee grounds, and other various sorts of goodies.

IMG_2875

Scraps I added to my pile, too beautiful not to document.