Gardening: How to save vegetable seeds for next year – The News-Herald
By JESSICA DAMIANO
Many of the vegetables we grow in our gardens produce seeds, which, if harvested and stored correctly, have the particular potential in order to grace us with free plants. And late summer is the perfect time to start collecting them.
A few notes: Make sure the plants from which you’re collecting seeds are heirloom, or open-pollinated, varieties. These are vegetation in their original forms whose seeds will produce plants with the same qualities as their parent.
Hybridized varieties, on the other hand, are created by breeding two or more different types to capture the best qualities of each. Attempting in order to grow seed products collected from hybrids will yield a harvest of disappointment, as the resulting plants will not have the expected attributes but rather carry the traits associated with only one of the parents — plus there’s no way to know what that will be. For this reason, it’s best not to grow seeds through supermarket create.
Many plant life become cross-pollinated in the particular garden when pollinators, other insects, animals and wind transfer pollen from one plant to another. To ensure the seeds you collect will grow into plants that will match their own parent, various varieties associated with the same crop should be kept anywhere from 100 feet to a mile apart, depending on climate, weather and some other variables. This is often impractical, in case not impossible, in the particular home garden.
To avoid cross-pollination surprises, plant only one variety of the category of plants that you plan to harvest seeds. If you want to save tomato seed products, for example, grow just one type of tomato in your garden.
In case that feels too limiting, go ahead and experiment, knowing that even if cross-pollinated, both parents are antique varieties a person selected and planted. They’ll probably become fine even if they’re not what you expect.
Store all seed in the cool, dry place in a covered glass jar or paper envelope away from ripening fruit, which would affect seed germination. The temporary addition of a silica gel packet to the jar will certainly remove any remaining moisture, but take it out after a couple of days to prevent over-drying.
Here’s how to collect and conserve seeds from the most common homegrown crops.
At the end of the growing season, lettuce will bolt, or send up the flower stalk that may develop seed heads reminiscent of dandelion puffs. When the puffs are dry, remove the entire stem, place it into a paper bag, fold over the top plus shake. The seeds can disengage through the flower and fall to the bottom of the bag.
Parsley is a biennial herb with a two-year life cycle that produces only edible foliage inside its first year and leaves plus flowers in its second. Allow those flowers to remain on second-year plants until they become brown and brittle. Cut them off the plant and store them in a paper bag in order to dry completely for the couple associated with weeks. When you remove them from the particular bag, rub the plants between your fingers to separate the seeds, then blow away the lightweight dry flower matter plus discard.
Basil seeds are tiny, so separating them from the small flower petals and chaff can end up being tedious. Whenever plants bolt at the end of the particular season, allow flowers to remain until they fade totally. Clip all of them off and place them within a mesh sieve or even colander, then use your fingers to rub them against the bottom of the sieve.
BEETS AND CARROTS
These biennial plants produce seeds only in their second year, after a period of vernalization, or cold storage. In areas along with cold winters, simply leave plants in the ground over winter.
Inside warm climates, you’ll have to create “winter” indoors: At the end of the first season, cut the foliage down in order to 2 inches, carefully dig up roots, and shop them in a refrigerator or cool cellar more than winter. Replant them outdoors the following spring.
When the leaves of second-year beet vegetation turn brown, remove the seed track from the top of the particular plant and place this in a paper handbag. Store within a cool, dry place for at least two weeks, then give the bag a good shake to separate the seeds. Pour them onto a plate, then blow on all of them to split up the particular chaff.
Permit second-year carrot flowers in order to dry on the grow, clip them off, plus dry all of them further in a paper handbag for the week or two. Shake the bag well and pour seeds out on to a dish, blow upon them to separate the skin.
Select the nicest-looking pepper from your own healthiest herb and allow it to stay on the flower until it is overripe plus wrinkled. Slice it in half and take away the seeds, discarding any that are discolored or otherwise undesirable. Spread seeds in a single layer on paper towels and permit them to dry in a warm spot far from direct sunlight. Toss the seeds occasionally to ensure actually drying, which usually should take about a week.
Allow an eggplant in order to over-ripen upon the vegetable until it becomes hard and wrinkled, plus loses its shine and color. Cut it open, remove the seeds make them within a bowl of water. Agitate the particular water with your hands to split up seeds through any flesh that is adhered to them. Strain, after that pat seed products dry with a towel and spread on the towel or even screen to dry, tossing every day with regard to up in order to a month till completely dry.
Because green beans produce a good ongoing harvest throughout the season, enjoy the first flush or two, then leave developing pods on one plant until they are usually completely dried and brown. You’ll understand they’re ready when they play like maracas. Cut the particular pods away the seed, place them in a cool, dark spot to dry further, then remove the seeds. Discard any that will appear discolored or damaged, and distribute the rest on a towel for a few days to harden.
There are two ways to save tomato seeds — the right way and the easy way. Full disclosure: I like this easy, plus I’ve succeeded with the particular shortcut. Your results may vary.
Start by cutting a tomato by 50 %, then squeeze out its seeds and pulp over a bowl.
Fermentation improves germination rates plus kills some seed-borne pathogens that could sicken plant life. To ferment seeds:
1. Place a cover slightly askew over the bowl and allow the seeds in order to sit inside their juices undisturbed for three days.
2 . Pour the particular bowl’s contents, which might be covered with the white film, into a larger container and add drinking water equal to at least 3 times the seeds’ volume.
3. Agitate the water with your hand plus pour away from the liquid. You’ll notice that most of the seed products will possess sunk to the bottom part of the container; they are the particular viable seed.
Any that float are duds, so pour all of them out along with the juice, pulp and water. Repeat the rinsing process two more times.
To make sure pathogens are killed, soak seed products for 30 minutes in a 90% water, 10% bleach solution, after that rinse very well. Spread seeds on a towel and permit to dry for about a week, putting occasionally.
Or, you can simply permit the whole mess associated with seeds plus pulp in order to dry on the plate in the open air for about a week, then scrape or pick off the seeds.
Enable your chosen fruit to become overgrown, wrinkled and dry on the place. Remove it, slice this open plus scoop out its seed products. If desired, follow the tomato fermentation process above. You’ll need to add a bit of drinking water towards the initial step because there won’t be any kind of juice or even pulp within the container.
Jessica Damiano writes regular gardening columns for The particular Associated Press. Her Horticulture Calendar was named the winner in the 2021 Garden Communicators International Media Awards. Her Weekly Dirt Newsletter won a Society of Professional Journalists PCLI 2021 Media Award. Sign up here for weekly gardening tips and advice.
For more AP Gardening stories, go to https://apnews.com/hub/gardening.