Friday, August 14, 2009

Seed to Seed Update

I joined the Seed to Seed Challenge this spring. I'd wanted to do more seed saving but haven't been willing before to give up my precious space to save that seed. This year I vowed to give up a bit of space and put a bit of effort into the challenge. It wasn't a perfect year for seed saving. With the cold weather our cucurbits just sat there all June not growing. I wanted to save my Magdelena Big Cheese, but it is not to be. I'll be lucky to get any ripe ones this year at all, much less specially chosen flowers that were taped shut. The same for my Costata Romanesca plants. I have enough seed to start more next year. I'll hope for better weather.

I saved peas from my Super Sugar Snap peas, but I don't know if they are viable. The weather has been so wet and humid that they have never really dried out well. Some I saved molded over and they were tossed. Peas may require special handling if I want to save them in the future. Carole Deppe recommends using a dehydrator with a temperature control. That might work if I had one, but my dehydrator is a cheapo and can't be controlled. Maybe peas are beyond me without good weather.

I've done well with flowers. I've saved seed from my Ground Control marigolds (which I love even though they are huge and try to take over the world). A few borage seeds have been saved. I still have to go out and look for nasturtiums, but I may just go for letting them self seed where ever they want like my dill, parsley and coriander does.

Though technically my tomatoes are not eligible for the challenge since I've saved that seed before, that won't stop me from saving seed this year. I've got five little bowls fermenting away. They are Gabrielle (best of the red Sungold F2s), Emma (best of the orange Sungold F2s), Miracle of the Market, Black Moor, and Chocolate Cherry.

Today my pepper isolation screen was removed from my jalapeno plant (not the serrano plant like I thought I'd done). The screen was put on July 24th, now three weeks later I have six peppers that have set in isolation. I marked each pepper with a bit of yellow flagging. I won't pick them until they are red ripe.

I've been picking coriander this last week and putting them in a paper bag until I get all I want. I'll start picking the dill soon too. Some of it is ripening. I love to get lots of dill seed since I use tons of it in my dill pickles every year. I always put the heads in a paper bag and let them totally dry out before removing them from the stems. That way they all just fall off easily.

My lettuce is slowly going to seed. I can't believe how long it takes. The flowers still haven't opened up. I hope they get to it soon.

There is some seed I'm hoping to save later in the year. I'm hoping to save seeds of my dried beans if we don't get the weather we got with the peas or they may all rot out too. I also want to save seed from my pineapple tomatillos since they are such an interesting plant.


  1. Hi Daphne,
    You have quite a seed-saving operation there. I have never saved vegetable seeds. Dan wrote an informative post about tomatoes last year but I never got my butt in gear.

    What vegetable would you recommend for the first-timer?

  2. It is impressive, but again, something I'm going to admire from afar for a bit. I'm sure you'll enjoy whatever does make it.

  3. Sally, Tomatoes are really easy. You pick them already ripe so the seeds in any tomato you pick will be ready to be saved. Most tomatoes are self pollinating so they don't have to have a lot of isolation from other tomatoes. You do have to ferment them after you scoop out the seeds, but it isn't hard. Just put the seeds in their gel into a bowl and add a touch of water. Cover so it doesn't dry out but make sure there are holes in the cover for airflow. Wait until a nice mold forms on top (usually 3-7 days) then separate out the seeds.

    Usually peas and beans are really easy too. They also tend to be self pollinating. But in our climate if it is really wet when it is seed harvest time it can ruin the seed.

    Stefaneener, I gardened for years without collecting seed. I let some things self sow (dill, cilantro, parsley), but never did any collecting. The one thing I don't like about collecting seed is that I can't switch varieties all the time. I love trying new ones. Collecting seed makes you think you ought to be always growing the same old same old. But I like the idea of collecting seed. The dill that has been allowed to self seed for over a decade grows amazingly well in my garden. Since there aren't many varieties of dill this isn't much of an issue, but for cilantro I've thought about trying the slow bolt kind, but since mine comes up every year I just haven't bothered. I'd also have to make sure to pull all the other cilantro so that doesn't come up anymore. It just doesn't seem worth it.