Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saving Seed

I collect seed here and there around the garden. I like to collect lettuce seed because it is so easy. You are suppose to have 12' or more between plants so they don't cross, but the reality is that they rarely cross anyway. Most of the time the flowers set before they even open. I'll know though if I have an issue.

I have three lettuce plants flowering. I have Little Gem, Paris Island, and Red Sails. The first two are Romaines and have white seed. The last one is a leaf lettuce with black seeds. Black seeds are a dominant trait. So if I have black seeds in my romaines, I know I have crossing.

I love borage. The flowers are pretty and very different and it pulls in a lot of bees very early in the season. The seed is also very easy to collect. I just pick it off the ground. I had pulled the plant because it was getting weedy looking (common with borage in mid to late summer).

And underneath the plant I found tons of seed on the path. I also have tons in the dirt, but I'll ignore them. I might them them grow there again next year or I might weed out the volunteers. And boy will there be volunteers next year. I've already got some coming up.

Cilantro and coriander are the same plant. I planted these for the cilantro, but I never pull them all and let them go to seed. Frankly I'd do it just for the flowers. It isn't that the flowers themselves are so interesting but they attract all sorts of beneficials to the garden.

But I get the bonus of letting them go to seed and collecting the coriander. The above are just covered in ripening seeds. I started collecting the dry ones today, but I'll be out there everyday picking off more. In about a week I'll probably just upend the plants and comb through it all.

And last but not least of the seeds I worked on today are the pea seeds. I hadn't shelled all of the Cascadia. I figured I'd just get it done so the seed can dry well and then be processed. I always freeze my legume seeds after the seed is totally dry (if not totally dry it will kill the seed when frozen). Freezing for a few days (0F or lower) kills weevil eggs. You won't know if your crop has them until the peas are destroyed, so it is always better just to be on the safe side and kill off the eggs.

Though it has nothing to do with seeds, I was pleasantly surprised to see this today. Two more melons have set. I planted eight cantaloupe plants. Eight melons set early on. Then all the female blossoms have fallen off since. I figured I'd get one per plant. I was pretty happy about that. Eight melons would be more than I've ever gotten before, even if these are small melons. But I'll dance if I can have melons in the double digits. That would just be too awesome.


  1. My cilantro is going to seed right now! I will be collecting it! I have had a terrible time with melons except for the very first year I gardened, I had tons of them and the vines were everywhere! I don't know what I did, but I wish I could do it again! Watermelon is even worse. Can't even get one decent one! Yours look really good! I do have one that is about an inch or so big right now. Ha, not too big! I have about 7 plants scattered around the garden!

  2. Great information. Thanks for sharing. I hope to be reading about your double digit melons soon!

  3. I have one melon plant that survived from three I planted from a store bought cantaloupe. No chance it will bear any fruit this late in the season, so I'm calling it a "ground cover" :-)

  4. I had a huge borage plant in the spring of last year that dropped seeds everywhere. I'm still finding borage volunteers coming up from that plant - I love it! But the cilantro seems to be petering out - there were too many volunteers early this year and now there's almost none. I would be ecstatic about those beautiful melons, last year the rodents got every one of mine and even if they hadn't I doubt that they would have been very good since it's just not warm enough here to sweeten them up.

  5. I really have been slacking in the seed saving department. I guess that I better get some tomato and pepper seeds saved soon.

    Your melons are looking good!

  6. Nice cantaloupes! I tried growing them once but they did really poorly for me. Those look very healthy!

  7. Thanks for the info on seed saving. I have some lettuce that I am hoping to get some seed from.

    Your melons are looking really good. My watermelon just began to grip on to the trellis. I won't be harvesting any this year.

  8. Shawn Ann, I've only succeeded in getting melons one year. I've tried like four in the past. This garden is warmer though than my old garden and the soil warms up a lot faster. And of course this month has been very hot, which doesn't hurt.

    Mrs. Pickles, I can't wait for them to ripen up. Then I'll have to figure out when to pick them. Always a challenge for melons.

    Granny, lol you could rip it up and put in something else. But I bet you are still hoping. It would be what I would do. Pray for a miracle.

    michelle, yeah cilantro is really a spring plant. I sowed some in June but the plants just don't want to grow. They so hate the heat.

    Robin, I was planning on saving some peppers seeds, but with the bacterial spot I can't (transmitted via seed). But you can bet I'll be saving tomato seeds later in the summer.

    Veggie PAK, they seem quite healthy, but powdery mildew has been creeping in. I should start spraying them.

    GrafixMuse, oh so sad. It was a late spring this year which made a lot of things late. July is certainly trying to make up for a slow spring though.

  9. Wow many seeds! Thanks for the lettuce tip. I am thinking of saving some lettuce seeds again this year. I was worried that they might cross-pollinate last year. But we glad we left some to bolt last year. That we have self-sowed lettuce for us this winter.

  10. Your garden looks like mine did in May when so many things went to seed. I can't believe how hot it's been on the East Coast. The melons look beautiful! I hope they're luscious!

  11. I love cilantro, and the coriander is great, as well. It's a two-fer! :)