Seed Saving Garden? Basics for the Beginner! Part 5

There is no more popular vegetable (fruit) than the tomato. The seed is easy to save and well worth the effort!!

There are steps to follow when saving tomato seed. Tomatoes are self pollinating therefore you need to recognize the flower types for successful seed saving.

  • There are two (2) types of flowers for tomatoes. It is important to know the distinction between the two.

Inserted stigma: the female part of the flower is encased inside the anther cone in the center of the flower.

inserted stigma

  •  You will notice in this picture a small hole in the tapered tube (corolla tube) in the center of the flower. The stigma (the female receptive part of the flower) is inside that small hole. The stigma is protected in the corolla tube which makes it unlikely that the flower will be cross pollinated.
  • Most tomato varieties have this blossom structure.
  • If isolation distances cannot be met. (25 feet is the required isolation distance between tomato varieties) caging the plant will be required.
  • Normally, 2 plants are sufficient to save adequate amounts of seed. However, you may only have space for a few of each variety you choose to save.
  •  Online or horticultural supplies and high end garden centers should have fine netting or row cover fabric to fit a caging frame.
  • Garden cages2        seed saving cages 2bf220def13c0a7dd7fe13d3e8f860078
  • Exposed stigma: the female part (stigma) of the flower is outside the anther cone in the center of the flower.
  • exposed stigma
    • In this picture you will see the stigma is clearly protruding out of the corolla tube. This type of flower is very susceptible to cross pollination from other tomato varieties.
    • Potato leaf and black/purple varieties of tomatoes have this blossom structure.
    • Caging is the preferred method if the garden is small and isolation distances cannot be met. The use of floating row cover fabric (similar to dryer sheet material) will absolutely insure there will be no cross pollination from other tomato varieties. The floating row cover fabric will allow for air and moisture to pass freely to the caged plants. ( 50 feet is the required isolation distance between tomato varieties) Two (2) plants are the requirement for saving seed from your caged tomato plants.
    • Floating Row Cover fabric may be purchased online from horticultural suppliers or high end garden centers.
    • seed saving cages 2bf220def13c0a7dd7fe13d3e8f860078

To insure the quality of seed, never save seed from the first cluster of tomatoes as they are off-type and not a true representation of the tomato you desire for seed saving. Usually you will notice your first tomatoes are much larger, misshaped, cat-faced (puckered seam on the blossom end), more prone to rotting and disease, the shoulders of the fruit tend to be hard, green and prone to cracking and slower to mature. You should reject this fruiting because they are not representative of the variety. Only save seed from the second through the fifth cluster. As the tomato plant continues to produce blossom clusters after the fifth cluster, you will notice the fruiting is producing a pointed blossom end (with the exception of Roma-type and Oxheart tomatoes). Again, you do not want to collect seeds from this tomato shape as it is off-type.

  •   tomato off type2       tomato off type
  • tomato off type1Part 6 will cover tomato harvesting, seed fermenting and seed storage.

Papa

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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

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That? Part 3

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.

Growing, Harvesting, Saving Seed

Beans (green, dry/fresh shell out beans), cowpeas/southern peas and peas (garden, snow and sugar snap peas) are the simplest seeds to save!!

  • Beans: 10 – 20 feet between varieties is sufficient to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating).

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years

beans-dry-bush-closeupDried beans on vineBeans pods2

  • Cowpeas: 10 – 20 feet between separation to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating) .

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years.

Cowpeas1Cowpeascowpeas2

  • Peas: 10 – 20 feet between varieties is sufficient to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating).

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years

Dried peas on vineDried peas1Dried peas

  • Remember, this is fun and practical! Any questions?

Papa

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That? Part 2

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.

This information was part of a presentation offered during the fall festival at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

Pepper-Etiuda-PP192-web07-IMG_3150Purple Basil

Seed Saving for the Beginner

  • Self pollinating annuals

–It is wise to perpetuate only open pollinated, heirloom varieties.

  • Beans, lettuce and peas are easy for seed saving production.
  • Tomatoes – bagging tomato hand (truss) or meeting isolation distances between varieties.
  • Cucumber, okra and melons are insect pollinated. One variety allows for production of true to type seed.
  • Pumpkins and squash should be hand pollinated and kept in a bag or cage until fruit is set.
  • Do not take on biennials requiring vernalization.
  • Do not take on those varieties requiring large isolation distances.

Population Size

  • Seeds collected from a number of plants of the same variety, protects the variety’s genetic diversity.
  • Seeds collected from a number of plants of the same variety, is essential to the health and performance of the variety.
  • Seeds collected in your garden are unique to the changing conditions of you area.
  • These seeds are now a one of kind variety for your special use.

Isolation

  • Goal – produce true to type seeds

–Prevent unwanted cross pollination

  • Isolation techniques:

–Blossom bagging – successful fertilization evidenced by development of  fruit.

Save okra seedTomato seed saving

  • Caging – a physical barrier made of a frame and screen to prevent cross pollination of insect pollinated plants.

seed saving cages 2bf220def13c0a7dd7fe13d3e8f860078seed saving cages 3whole

Garden cages4

Bagging and caging are useful for those who have limited space. The netting or row covers will prevent inadvertent cross pollination by wind or vibration.  Plus, the caging method is a great way to contain pollinators (such as bumble bees and mason bees) to pollinate Cucurbit (cucumbers, melons, squash, watermelons) crops.

Please, I am looking forward to answering any of your questions!!

Papa