Tag Archives: seed saving

Putting the garden to bed

I did some much needed clean up this past weekend.

Finally pulled up all the zucchini plants. There were a few tiny ones on the gigantic plant that I thought wouldn’t reach maturity now that the temperatures are starting to cool off. I didn’t realize there was a large one hiding underneath all the leaves until I started breaking them off. A welcome surprise! The plants all snapped at the base when I tried to remove them, leaving the roots deep within the soil. When I tried to remove the the large zucchini’s damaged root (the one destroyed by the squash vine borer), it broke it half and dust and flies came out. A worm also oozed its way out of the stump and back into the soil. It was pretty gross.

I pulled up my eggplants as well. They haven`t done anything for weeks. I did manage to harvest some seeds which I’m really happy about. I picked the seeds out of the pulp using a paring knife and then rinsed them according to the Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook I saved on my Resources page (I only remembered to consult the handbook when I started getting tired of picking out the seeds. They’re so tiny! I did one eggplant and gave up).

From the back: dill (in the bag), something, calendula, morning glory, eggplant (in the plate), someting, okra, peppers

From the back: dill (in the bag), nasturtium, calendula, morning glory, eggplant (in the plate), acorn squash, okra, peppers

I saved some morning glory seeds to try growing them in containers next year. I found a site that recommends using a tripod setup for the vines to climb. I thought it was a neat idea. I noticed today that a house on my relatives’ street in Hamilton that had a few pots on the porch with the same design.  The plants looked really beautiful.

I couldn’t help but take some pictures of the grasshopper I saw when I was taking down the sunflowers.

Peekaboo! Think you can hide from me?!

Peekaboo! Think you can hide from me?!

You'll notice there's a beetle inside the the exposed branch

You’ll notice there’s a beetle inside the the exposed branch underneath the grasshopper. I wonder if he’s helping to decompose the plant from the inside. It was pretty dry and dusty when I cracked it open.

He looks suspiciously like my friend with the one hind leg.

From this side, he looks suspiciously like my friend with the one hind leg from the other day.

I managed to give myself a few good scratches from this rusty support. I’m going to tell my uncle to discard it. It’s not safe.

Rusty support

Good thing my tetanus shots are up to date

I tried to dispose of all the normally decomposing plants in the compost and the ones that may have had some disease or infestation I separated out as garden waste. It’s a tough call to determine what should go where because sometimes I’m not entirely sure what normal decomposition looks like compared to disease. I put the small zucchini and newer leaves of the plant in the compost and saved the older leaves and the root for the garden waste.

I also tried to leave most of the roots in the soil by cutting off the plants at the base. This was suggested by one of my neighbours at the community garden last year. He said the roots were beneficial for the bugs in the soil.

I left the tomatoes because there was no more room in the compost and frankly I couldn’t deal with the mess. I’m hoping that before the fall frost comes around October 6th that some more of them will ripen.

Many tomatoes won't ripen

The tomato plants are sagging under their own weight

I can't believe it's finally growing!

I can’t believe it’s finally growing!

Seeing this parsley in the dandelion pot made me thinking that maybe it’s not too late to get some greens growing before a serious frost kills them off. In fact, I hear some greens taste better after a mild frost. I can probably make good use of the greenhouse once it really starts to get cold.

Kale, collards, and spinach seeds

I planted kale, collards, and spinach seeds. Sure hope they grow.

I put them in the greenhouse today. It’s supposed to dip down to  single digits again overnight.

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Decision time

I feel like continuing to give the tomatoes and zucchini more time to do their thing at this point in the season is a waste of time. I think it would be better to pull up the summer stuff and plant more fall greens before it gets too cold for them to germinate. This seems like a good plan at the end of September :).

The tomatoes are blocking the herbs planted behind them from getting any sun (the collard greens are looking spindly) and frankly I’m a little sick of dealing with them. Last week the zucchini had two blossoms, this week only one and it’s pretty dried out. The plot was looking really dry today so I watered it. I think my brother, the principal waterer, has been neglecting his duties because we’ve had some rainfall lately and the temps have cooled off. It rained yesterday, he pointed out, but as my sister also pointed out: not very much.

No garden pictures today; my camera died. Instead, here are some pics of a cute kitty that lives near the gardens. We have pet sessions every time I see him.

I’m interrupting something…

but he comes to say hi anyway

 

I think he’s an old guy but he’s quite friendly

 

Plan for the weekend:

  • Take down the tomatoes and stakes. We have to do this by the end of October anyway so I might as well get an early start
  • Pull up the zucchini
  • Plant some garlic and fall greens (kale, collards)
  • Replace camera batteries for next visit

I want to plant some annual rye grass as a green manure this year, but I haven’t quite figured out how I’ll plant the rye grass and also grow things at the same time. By the time I have to pull up the fall stuff it will probably be too cold for the seeds to germinate. The idea is to plant the rye grass around this time and let the winter kill it off. In the spring, turn it over into the soil. I was also told I could plant it in the early spring and turn it over once the grass reaches 6 inches height. Decisions, decisions.

Came across this great seed storing tips link on Urban Harvest’s Facebook page on the 19th. I haven’t refrigerated my seeds in the past but I think I will this season.

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Fall on the horizon

Quickly ran by the garden before meeting up with a friend for dinner at Guu Sakabar. I had about 15 minutes to assess what was happening and  harvest whatever was ready for eating and for storing (ie. seeds).

The zucchini was putting out a few blossoms but not making any fruit. It’s starting to go down to  single digit temperatures overnight so I’d be surprised if any fruit actually produces. I hope more blossoms continue to bloom so I can try making a stuffed zucchini blossom recipe.

Blossoms only : (

The tomato plants continue their natural decline but I’m happy to say that energy is being put into ripening the fruit.

Fruit is still ripening

Parsley and dill are getting stronger. I’m not sure what the oblong-shaped leaf near the parsley and dill is. It doesn’t look like the collards near the back of the photo.

Parsley and dill

This chive flowers were closing up and starting to make seeds.

Chive seeds in the making

I was tempted to pick the buds but decided to leave them. A post on saving garlic chive seeds on the Garden web forum told me that, much like with other seeds, it was best to wait for the  seeds dry on the plant before picking them for storage. I wonder if they taste any good like this?

I’ve noticed for a while that the basil were going to seed and recently discovered that the  seed pods are actually underneath the flowers. I had to turn the plant upside down to find them.

Green seed pods under Dark Opal basil flowers

Basil seeds

I gently picked off the dried flowers and managed to separate some seeds from the pod.

Basil seeds

I’d soon run out of time so I quickly picked a few more dried basil, calendula and cornflower flower heads so I could remove the seeds at home.

Seeds and dried seed pods

Calendula and cornflower

Guu had an interesting atmosphere and the food was delicious. After dinner, we sat on the patio outside  Starbucks. I felt a little chilly in my short sleeved sweater. What was I thinking coming out without a jacket? Fall is just around the corner…

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Still thinking about seeds…

Visited relatives last weekend and came back with some sage, mint, and hot peppers from their garden. I’m using the mint and sage for tea and I’m trying to save the pepper seeds for next year.

Sage, mint, hot peppers

What I’ve realized after reading articles on the subject, particularly the Seed Saving Instructions for Beginners and the Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook , is that the fruits must fully ripen on the plants before the seeds can be harvested otherwise they may not germinate. I had been drying seeds from a green pepper, not a fully ripened red one, and it did not ripen on the plant (obviously). I tossed them out today and after washing my hands, forgetting I had been handling hot pepper seeds, I began to rub my eye. Big mistake! My eye swelled and burned like mad. Without thinking again I put water on my eye, which made it burn even more! I should have remembered that drinking water after eating peppery food just makes things worse. I did eventually recall what helps to soothe the pepper burn – milk! I put some milk in a cupped hand and rubbed it on my eyelids and the swelling began to go away immediately as did the burning. Pfew!

The other day I was surprised to find some calendula seeds just lying around in the plot, near where the borage plant used to be.  So I gathered them up and I’m making sure they are fully dried before I package them for next year.

Calendula seeds

I read in an eHow article that seeds that fall on the ground can be moldy and can get wet (which makes they nonviable for saving). I’d still like to try growing them so I think I’ll separate them into another package, rather than putting them in with the seeds I bought from Urban Harvest. The soil was very dry when I found them so I’m hoping they are still OK.

So now I’m thinking more about harvesting flower seeds for next season. I’ve been admiring the yarrow in the community plot all summer.

Yarrow

I’ve been reading lately about the benefits of yarrow as a companion plant. According to wikipedia, it attracts predatory wasps and ladybugs, improves the soil, and improves the health of plants that are grown nearby. eHow also gives some other useful information about yarrow. It apparently takes 2 years to become established, which is a bit of a bummer.

I helped myself to some drying flowers just off of the community plot and I’ve placed them in a paper bag to fully dry. You can shake the bag to try and separate the seeds from the chaff before you store them.

I saw an interesting video on Youtube today about collecting nasturtium seeds. I’m going to be looking for these on my next visit to the garden!

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Saving seeds

Last year I started saving seeds for the first time. I got the general idea of seed saving from You Grow Girl or Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail. I decided on sunflower seeds for a reason that now escapes me… I read about how to do it online and watched some videos on Youtube. You can either cut off the sunflower head and dry it or dry it on the stem. The cheese cloth is to keep birds or other critters from getting at it. I’ve also read you can use a paper bag but this must be for smaller flower heads.

Collecting seeds

I picked out the seeds from the head and dried them indoors on a hard surface. I kept them in a plastic bag all year, which is not good, but it surely didn’t affect sunflower production this year. In fact, the only difference this year is that the sunflowers were poly-headed (my scientific term), specifically with one large head and several small ones, whereas last year they were mono-headed. I still have so many sunflower seeds left that I don’t need to do it this year.

Sunflowers with one large head and many small heads

This year, I want to be more active with seed collection because it’s easy and it’s cost effective (no need to buy seeds next year). I decided to start with dill because the seeds caught my eye.

Dill seeds

I couldn’t remember exactly how I was supposed to do it (because the books are at the library), but I do remember from  Gayla’s books that you’re supposed to cut the stem below the seeds and put it upside down in a paper bag. The seeds will drop to the bottom once they’re dry. I started this last week:

Dill drying in a paper bag

To be sure I was doing it right, I searched the net and came across the Deep Roots at Home blog. What caught my eye was the suggestion to add holes to the bag for circulation! So I poked some holes in it with a safety pin. Hope that’s good enough. The blogpost also shows that you can have several stems in one bag. Right now I have 3 bags going with one stem each because I wanted to be sure they got enough air to dry properly. Totally unnecessary.

I know for sure that You Grow Girl had a template for seed packets. There are many seed packet templates online. I chose one at Carolyn’s Stamp Store because I liked the simple design and clear instructions for putting it together.

Folded template

I didn’t have a glue stick so I taped it together, put my sunflower seeds in and made a simple label.

Homemade sunflower seed package

You Grow Girl suggested fancy designs but I decided to make it simple. I don’t consider myself to be crafty, but I do have crafty aspirations!

Homemade vs professional

I came across this Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook online. I love that it tells you how long you can save your seeds. For example, it says dill seeds will last 3 years or more and sunflower seeds (between squash and Swiss chard on the list; there is no direct link) will last 5 years or more if stored properly.

Can’t wait to package my dill!

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