Thursday, October 13, 2011

Savings Seeds

I have started trying to save some of my own seeds.  I attended a seed saving workshop at our Seedy Saturday this year and learned a lot. 

Last year I saved some lettuce seeds because I got some Deer-Tongue Lettuce at Seedy Saturday that year.  I had never seen that kind of lettuce before and liked that it seemed to stay edible longer than my other lettuce which seemed to go bitter quite quickly.  It was quite easy to save - you let the plant flower and when the flowers turn to fluff, I pulled it out and hung it to dry some more.  I then shook and hit the plant in a large bag and collected the seeds that way.

I hang the plants in the greenhouse to dry just as I do with my herbs.  Here are some of my mixed greens drying.  I had several packs of mixed lettuce and mesclun mix and tried to save some of the different plants.  I was not successful saving seed from most of the lettuces but was with the mustardy greens.  They are a great addition to salads as they have a tang and really add some flavor and variety.

Here are the pods from the dried greens.

I crushed the pods to extract the seeds.  You can see the different colours of the different varieties.  I just labelled them as mixed greens.

I would gently blow away the chaff for storage.  I also have a small strainer that I use, but unfortunately not only the seeds go through the holes.  So my seeds are not as clean as store bought seeds - there are bits of fine plant matter that was hard to remove. 

Here is my garlic drying.  I hung it in the garage instead of the greenhouse because the greenhouse is attached to the house and the scent of the garlic drifted into the bedrooms when the windows were open.  It is not that I hate the smell of garlic but when I was trying to sleep my stomach would be thinking about spaghetti sauce.

I will be saving the largest heads to replant this October.  When the leaves dry up I cut the heads off and store them until later.

For the last couple of years I have also got different beans from Seedy Saturday and dried them for cooking and also replanting the following year.  I leave the plants in the garden until the pods turned brown and dry.  I then pull out all the plants and pick off the pods.  After that I sit under the grape arbor, shell beans and watch the chickens whenever I need a break or to do something out of the sun.

I had at least four different varieties that I tried.  The Pinto Beans and the Black Beans were from last year and I saved my own seed.  This year I also planted some Kidney Beans and White Soup Beans.  After all the beans were shelled, I laid them on trays in the greenhouse to make sure they were good and dry.  Then they get sorted and stored until used later.

I also brought in the sunflowers to dry because the birds were eating them and I wanted them for my chickens.

After the heads are dry, I shell the seeds into a pail.  I wasn't too worried about all the leaves, etc because they are for the chickens and they are not going to mind.

I also saved some dill this year.  I didn't have much luck with it in my herb garden because a couple of chickens got out in the spring and scratched up some of the herb boxes.  I had some growing in another part of the garden but want it back in its own herb box next year.

I have some very pretty double poppies that I saved the seeds from.  Several were volunteers in the garden so I saved some seed and snipped off the rest of the seed pods so I wouldn't have any there next year.  I know I should have pulled it out but it was too pretty.  Here you can see how tiny the poppy seeds are compared to the dill seed.

I also have some marigold seeds.  Some years I have planted them at the ends of rows in the garden.. It is supposed to keep away some pests - I don't know if it does but they don't hurt anything being there and are nice and bright with their orange and yellow faces.

I haven't tried saving tomatoes, cukes, etc yet but there is always next year.  ;)


  1. That's quite a seed collection! Tomato seeds are the ones we always save! It's a little messy, and the seeds take a while to prepare, but we've managed to keep our favorite, Russian Persimmon, going for quite a few years now just on saved seed. Also managed to save seed from a unique sport, where a traditionally red tomato produced a plant with all orange fruits instead. Through seed saving, we've now stabilized it, and it now always produces orange tomatoes. I think the best part of seed saving is that it helps us as gardeners to hang on to varieties that might not be in 'fashion' with seed companies. Not to mention, it's just plain fun!

  2. Hi the seeds you sent were harvested by you!! Cool. I cant wait to try it. I would like to send seed to you. Are you looking for any veg in particular?

  3. I've just started saving seeds. You've got a lot saved there. How fun to go to a seed saving workshop!

  4. Great collection of seeds for next year! That's some sunflower head! I only saved cosmos seeds last year, but this year I hope to save several more kinds.

  5. I am very impressed with your seed saving. I have always wanted to try growing garlic and I gather now is the time to plant it.

  6. Brill that you saved so many different seeds. I have tried saving Lettuce seeds but it's too damp here in Ireland for those fluffy seeds.

  7. Curbstone - I haven't tried tomatoes yet but plan to in the future.

    Erin - I am interested in your Salas Bowl Lettuce. (You can never have enough lettuce and greens).

    Carolyn - you are correct that now is garlic planting time.

    Bridget - I have heard of people using their cars to dehydrate tomatoes, etc. I wonder if you could put your lettuce in a paper bag once it blooms and let it dry there? If you get some warm, sunny days it just might work.