Transition Cornwall+ has a monthly column in Sports Energy News and the October 12 issue talks about the magic of seed saving. To add to the advice in that column here are some more tips that can help you this fall and next spring.
Seed Saving – It’s not too late!
By Anke Craig
Since fall has arrived, and we had the first frost, you gardeners out there are probably thinking of tidying up your garden and getting it ready for winter. Now is the last chance to save a few seeds of your favourite vegetables, the ones that did well and that you enjoyed eating.
When you pull out your pole beans, you will probably find a few that have grown large and are starting to dry out. At this stage you can cut the bean off the plant with a bit of the plant attached and let it dry out further. Keep the beans in a shed or garage where the air is cool and dry but where they don’t freeze, so that they don’t get moldy. Once they are completely dry, choose the largest beans and take them out of the shell and store in a bag or glass jar and label with the variety and date. Use those beans as seeds and the rest you can use for soups.
If you have a few ripe heirloom tomatoes (not hybrids), that did well in your garden, chose one that is fully ripe, almost going soft, cut it open and scrape out the seeds. Smear the seeds unto a paper towel and write the variety and date on the edge. Let them dry on the paper towel. You do not have to scrape off the seeds, you can do that in the spring and a bit of paper on the seed does not inhibit germination. Store in a cool, dark place.
Arugula is another plant that probably has gone to seed by now . The arugula plant grows tall when it “bolts” and has a long stalk with a white flower. Spindle-like green seed pots will form along the stalk and if you let them dry out they turn beige and brittle. Let them dry out completely and open the seed pods; there you find the small, brown seeds. Keep seeds in an envelope with variety and date on it, in a cool dark place.
Your lettuce has surely gone to seed at this time of year. If you have not removed the plant from your garden yet, look at it closely. The lettuce that was so tasty in the spring is now bitter and tough and has grown tall. On top of the plant is a cluster of yellow flowers that look a bit like dandelions, because lettuce is related to dandelions. The flower will mature, dry out and form a cluster of seeds with white fluff. At this point the stalk should be placed in a paper bag to dry further, when completely dry, shake the bag and the seeds will come off. Store in a dark and dry place, label with variety and year.
Next year have fun planting them!
For more information on this fascinating subject go to “Seeds of Diversity Canada”, www.seeds.ca