Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saving Pepper and Bean Seeds

While most of my seeds have been dried and put away already, I have some beans seeds and pepper seeds that are still getting prepared. The Early Jalapeno peppers didn't ripen in the garden in time. As frost was coming I had dug up the plant that I isolated for seed saving. I didn't need to keep it long. Just long enough for those peppers to ripen all the way. When it was dug I had one pepper that was partially ripe. Now all the six peppers were showing red.

Two of the peppers were completely ripe so they were taken off the plant.

Their seeds were stripped out and laid out to dry. Over the next week I'm sure the rest of the peppers will be ripe and I'll process those. Then the poor plant will get sent to the compost pile.

Trail of Tears (right), Ottawa Cranberry (left)

The other seeds that are still not done are my bean seeds. Bean seeds can have weevil eggs in them. I have no clue if that is true here or not. I haven't saved any bean seed without killing off the eggs to find out. Killing the eggs is easy. They die if they are subjected to 3 days at 0F (-18C). Suzanne Ashworth claims that you should keep them in the freezer for five days. I've already done this with my beans that I'm going to eat and not save for seed. With those I didn't worry if the seed was dry enough first. If it isn't the seed can die.

So I tested the seed by whacking a few the a hammer. If the seed mushes instead of shattering, it's not ready. All the seed shattered except the one on the far right. That one half shattered. It was just a touch mushy so I'll dry those for a couple of more weeks and try again. The others were put in a ziplock and put in the lowest part of my chest freezer. I'll take them out on Monday.


  1. Cool, Daphne! And what a great low-tech dryness test! You're inspiring me to save some 'Biker Billy' jalapeno seeds and see what happens next year, even though they're hybrids. We have some lovely ripe ones now. Could be an interesting experiment!

  2. I thought of that playwriting rule, that if you introduce a gun in act 2, it had better go off by act 4 when I saw the hammer.

    Inspiring. Maybe next year I'll isolate a pepper or more.

  3. How far away do you have to isolate a pepper plant? I was planning on using part of my front lawn to plant certain veggies for seed. I'm guessing its about 70 feet from my garden.

  4. our friend Ben, I love those experiments. I wish I had more room in the garden so I could do even more than I do now.

    Stefaneener, Yes I gave you broken seeds just like you were expecting :>

    Thomas, if you do it by distance 500' is good (or so says my reference which is Seed to Seed). I isolated by putting a screen box over the top of that one pepper plant. It was noticeably better than my other jalapenos. Peppers are self pollinating so they don't need any insects to help out.

  5. I didn't save any seed from the garden this year, but will definitely save the tomato seeds next year.

  6. Did a little seed saving this year - some runner beans, bush beans, sugar snap peas, and pumpkin. It's an enjoyable process but not one I indulge in a lot because I don't like having to keep plants languishing in beds to produce seed, when the bed could be put to productive use growing another food crop!

  7. hi, just visiting from Blotanical.
    You got a very cool looking pepper.

    Never knew about the smashing of the beans!!! First time coming across that technic.

  8. EG, I couldn't imagine not saving tomato seed. It is the one plant that you don't have to give extra space to since you always pick it ripe anyway and don't need to isolate it. Also you get to eat the tomato after you take the seeds out. OK so you have to have some moldy seeds gel on the countertop for a few days. For those that freak out with mold I can understand. But you squash bugs with your hands.

    kitsapFG, I have the same issue. My garden isn't that big and hate giving up space. I tend to pick plants that are inbreeders and don't need a lot of plants to go to seed. I'm not sure I'll ever have the space to let something like a brassica go to seed.

    James, well both Suzanne Ashworth and Carol Deppe both say to smash them so I listen. I just wish I had a dehydrator that had a low temperature setting. I could dry those guys out really fast.

  9. You have given me hope for all the bean pods I left drying on a rack at the other house. If they aren't consumed by weevils by the time I return ;-) I did get almost a cup of dried beans, but didn't know about putting them in the freezer. I just left them on the shelf in an open jar.

  10. I saved some bean seeds this year, I'm not sure if they are any good though. They seem to have dried down pretty small, half the size of what I originally planted.

  11. I love the hammer pictures. Did I give you those early Jalapenos? If not, then mine almost always ripen on the plant, especially if I crank up the heat with a little microclimate adjustment (plastic mulch). This year kind of sucked for some heat loving plants though in my neck of the woods. I should have extras still (I think) if you would like to try some.

    I always get 'stretch marks' on my jalapenos too.

  12. Annie's Granny, well hopefully yours will be OK. If you do have pests hopefully they won't eat them all.

    Dan, beans really need to be picked when they are pretty dry on the vine. I don't know when yours was picked. I would think small beans would make for some weak plants.

    Ottawa Gardener, no I get the Early Jalapenos from Pinetree this year. Mine would have ripened earlier, but I isolated the plant a bit late (end of July). I had already gotten the first flush of peppers. I stripped them all off and started again. I should have done it earlier, but how can you pick which pepper to isolate if you don't know how they grow and produce? Yeah I always pick my jalapenos (not the ones for seed of course) before they start corking. I suppose they are probably hotter after they cork, but jalapenos are usually hot enough.

  13. About half the beans were dry on the plants, the other half were still fleshy but the plants were yellowing. Maybe I am just imagining they were originally bigger... I should grow some when I get the grow light going to see what they do.

  14. I didn't know about bean weevils, so will watch for that!