Seed Saving Garden? Basics for the Beginner! Part 4

As heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers are losing ground by an estimated 10,000 a year, seed saving has become a race for time and the home gardener has a place in this race.

I met a man in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed store who lost his personal family heirloom seed in a house fire. He was saddened he could not replace those beloved seeds. All the more reason to embrace the heirlooms we can grow and make them our own.

The beginning seed saver will have great success when saving seed harvested from vegetables where seeds mature and dry on the plant. The distance required between varieties is ten (10) feet therefore the possibility for cross pollination is very slight.

Beans (green, dry/fresh shell out beans, lima beans, long beans, soybeans, tepary beans, Asian winged beans, runner beans, fava beans), cowpeas/southern peas (Crowder, black-eyed, purple hull, field peas) and peas (garden, snow and sugar snap peas) are the simplest seeds to save!!

  • Beans require 10 – 20 feet spacing between varieties to prevent cross pollination as they are self pollinating. 10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities and seed diversity (color, texture, flavor and acclimated to your garden). You have now grown seed for your particular growing needs. No one else will have this unique seed. Harvest when the pods are dry on the plant, shell/thresh the pods and save the seeds. Seeds may be saved in paper envelopes, placed in a zip lock bag with a desiccant and placed in a lidded glass jar in the freezer. Remember to write the name of the seed and date on the envelope. If harvested and dried correctly the seed will be viable 3 to 4 years.
  • beans-dry-bush-closeupBeans pods2Dried beans on vine
    • Cowpeas require 10 – 20 feet spacing between varieties to prevent cross pollination as they are self pollinating. Ten (10) plants are needed for sufficient seed and seed diversity (color, texture, flavor and acclimated to your garden). You will posses seed unique to your area and it is one- of- a- kind. No one else can claim your seed as theirs. Harvest when pods have dried on the plant, shell/thresh the pods and save the dried seeds. Make sure the seeds are completely dried (should feel like pebbles/rock) and placed in a paper envelope with the name of the seed and date stored. Place the envelope in a zip lock bag with a desiccant and seal in a lidded glass jar. Store the jar in a freezer until the seed is needed. If harvested and dried correctly the seed will be viable for 3 to 4 years.

Cowpeascowpeas2Cowpeas1

  • Peas require 10 – 20 feet spacing between varieties to prevent cross pollination as peas are self pollinating.  Ten (10) plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities and seed diversity (color, texture, flavor and acclimated to your garden). Your saved seed is now unique to your garden and region. No one else will have this one-of-a-kind seed. Harvest when the pods have dried on the plant, shell/thresh the pods and save the dried seeds. Make sure the seeds are completely dried (like pebbles or stone) and place in a paper envelope with the seed name and date of storage. Place the envelope in a zip lock bag with a desiccant and seal in a lidded glass jar. Store the glass jar in the freezer until the seed is needed. If the seed has been harvested and dried correctly the seed will be viable for 3 to 4 years.

Dried peas on vineDried peas1Dried peasRemember only harvest dried seed pods from disease-free plants. Dried seed from diseased plants will infect healthy seed and may cause crop failure in future gardening projects.

Tomatoes need a special process prior to drying. Stay tuned to learn the how-to’s.

Papa

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Succession Planting for Success!!

It is amazing how many times I hear of someone’s lack of success for certain crops. When you “put all your eggs in one basket” and only plant one time, that is often the basis for disappointment. If you do several small plantings a week to 10 days apart you have a much better chance for meeting your expectations. Succession planting will fulfill your idea of a good garden!!

succession planting            succession planting1

There are several strategies that maximize your efforts. You will be astounded when you see how much produce you can get from small areas.

  • Two or more crops in succession: After one crop is harvested, another is planted in the same space. The length of the growing season, climate, and crop selection are important issues.
    • For example, a cool season spring crop (such as Irish potatoes) could be followed by a heat-loving summer crop (bush beans). The beans require less fertilizer and supply free nitrogen to the soil. The  bush beans are not bothered by the potential diseases of the potatoes.
    • Likewise, garden peas ( a legume) could be planted in cooler  weather, followed by tomatoes or squash.
  • Same crop, successive plantings: Several smaller plantings are made at timed intervals, rather than all at once. The plants mature at different dates, providing a continuous harvest over an extended period.
    • Lettuce, spinach and other greens are common crops for this method. The beauty of this approach eliminates the overwhelming effect of too much produce at one time.
      • There are many lettuce types from which to choose:
        • Looseleaf, Butterhead, Cos (romaine), Buttercrunch, Batavian, Heading and Chinese. Some of the Looseleaf and Romaine types may be grown in warmer/hotter temperatures.
  • succession planting3
  • Same crop, different dates of maturity: Planting different varieties (for example broccoli or tomato) that come to harvest at successively later dates.
    • Calabrese Green Sprouting broccoli matures 10 – 14 days earlier than Waltham 29 broccoli.
    • Stupice tomato starts to fruit in 55 days, Roma tomato 70 days and Black Krim tomato 85 days. Plus Stupice and Roma are much smaller plants which can be planted in front of the taller Black Krim.

Using one or all of these methods will give you a greater chance for success in your gardening endeavors. Enjoy your new opportunities!

Papa