How to save seeds for the most productive garden

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How to save seeds for the most productive garden

The ancient technique of saving seeds from one growing season to another is practical, self-sufficient and as far as pennywise is concerned.

Not only will you never have to buy another package of seeds, harvesting seeds of a tasty fruit or vegetable that you know grows well in your garden means you can do it year after year. If you have ever felt the pain and disappointment of seeing that your favorite cultivars have been discontinued by the seed company, saving seed can be invaluable!

In addition, saving seed helps preserve genetic diversity. Our dependence on commercial varieties has led to the disappearance of thousands of relics (or seeds transmitted through generations of gardeners). Unfortunately, in the last 80 years about 93% of the varieties produced have been extinguished.. But saving the seeds of the crops that you grow or harvest seeds of organic heirloom products at the farmer's market helps to maintain our diverse food sources. You can also store your seeds to share and exchange them with like-minded gardeners or in a seed bank.

A quick introduction on how plants produce seeds:

Before delving into how to save seeds, it is important to understand some basic principles of the sexual reproduction of plants.

Open pollination refers to plants that "will really reproduce". These varieties are self-pollinated or cross-pollinated with other plants of the same type through wind or insects. The seeds produced by open pollen plants will be almost identical to those of the mother plant. The relic varieties always come from open pollinated plants.

In contrast, hybrid seeds are created by crossing two different but related plants to cultivate specific traits such as taste, yield, resistance and disease resistance. Although this process can occur naturally, commercially available hybrid seeds (labeled F1 in the package) are raised through a carefully controlled process that can last for many years and are often pollen by hand. However, seeds produced by hybrid plants are not genetically stable. If you plant the seeds of a hybrid plant, you will get an unpredictable combination of characteristics, both good and bad, from the original plants.

Selecting Plants:

For the seed saver for beginners, annual open pollen plants are a good place to start. The seeds of tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers and lettuce are easy to collect, prepare and store.

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To keep the varieties of plants pure and real, just plant one variety per species. For example, planting Roma tomatoes together with cherry tomatoes carries the risk of cross-pollination between cultivars; The seeds you save could become a strange new hybrid (often less than the originals) the following year. If your property is near a neighbor with an orchard, be sure to locate your plot as far away as possible from yours to further reduce the chances of cross-pollination.

The seeds of biennial crops (carrots, celery, leeks, onions, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnip and the like) can also be saved, but will have to wait until the second growing season to produce seeds.

Harvesting the seed:

Always choose the healthiest and most productive plants to harvest the seeds. Knowing when to harvest the seeds and how to prepare them for storage varies from one plant to another:

The tomatoes

Harvest tomato seeds when the fruit is fully ripe. Cut the tomato in half and remove the seeds and the surrounding pulp with a spoon and place them in a clean glass jar. Add a little water and cover loosely with gauze. Place in a warm place and stir once or twice a day. The pulp will begin to ferment (this is good!) And after about 5 days, the viable seeds will sink to the bottom. Pour the liquid and collect the seeds, rinse them before spreading them to dry.

Peppers

Sweet and spicy peppers must be fully ripe before harvesting the seed. In the case of sweet peppers, they should be red and not green. The process of collecting pepper seeds is super easy, just scrape the seeds of the cluster in the center of the cone. Rinse and dry.

Peas and beans

Harvest the seeds (or pods, in this case) of the peas and beans when they are golden, which is about four weeks after you normally would have harvested them as food. You will know that they are ready when you hear the seeds resonate inside the pods. Dry the pods for about two weeks before removing the peel and collecting the seed.

Lettuce

You can collect lettuce seeds once the plant has budded (ie, flowered), and while you wait, you can still harvest the outer leaves of the lettuce without damaging the plant. Once you have flowers, remove them and place them carefully in a paper bag. Pour the contents on a flat surface and separate the flowers to release the seeds. Once you have separated the seeds from the flower, spread them dry.

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Cucumber

Because cucumbers are tasty when they are still immature, you should leave some seeds in the plant to allow them to fully ripen before collecting the seeds. They will turn golden yellow when they are ripe, about five weeks after they would normally harvest them to obtain fruit. Like tomatoes, cucumber seeds need to be fermented along with their pulp.

Melons

The process of collecting seeds for these varieties covers the same type of watermelon, sweet melon, melon and Armenian cucumbers. Once they have matured and are ready to eat, simply set the seeds aside and rinse with clean water to remove the pulp. I know that.

Pumpkin and pumpkin

The members of the Cucurbita The family, pumpkin and pumpkin must be fully ripe before harvesting the seeds. The outer layer must be hard. Once you have cut the fruit from the plant, you can set it aside for another three weeks or so to allow the seeds inside to ripen more. When ready, cut the fruit and remove the seeds. Place the seeds in a colander and rinse with warm water to remove the surrounding pulp.

Seed drying and storage:

Because seeds tend to stick to paper towels, only use ceramic or glass dishes to dry the seeds. Put them in a cool, shady place with little moisture for faster drying.

The seeds dry completely when they are hard. Try squeezing a seed; If you still feel soft and flexible, you need more time to dry. You can also press it with pliers or hit it with a hammer; if the seed breaks, it will dry up.

Store the seeds in a cool, dark and dry place. Seeds stored in paper envelopes will last for 2 to 4 years, but can extend their shelf life for a decade or more by storing them in a tightly sealed glass container and storing them in the refrigerator or freezer. Be sure to include a label that specifies the crop, the name of the variety and the date of harvest.

Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/how-to-save-seeds/, by Lindsay Sheehan

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