Seed saving, as the name suggests, refers to the act of harvesting seeds from a crop and saving them, usually with the intention to plant them at a later date. The process can be a great way to save money, and to learn more about the growing organic fruits and veggies.
Saving seeds from your personal favourite fruits and veggies you’ve grown is a nice way to be able to grow them the following season. It can also be great for kids to watch their food grow from scratch and witness the full life-cycle of the plants.
For those looking to start seed saving, it’s best to start with plants that make the process simple while you’re still getting the hang of it. Some good examples of easy plants for this process are those that self-pollinate, such as beans, lettuce, peas and tomatoes. These food plants are also annuals, meaning they complete their entire life cycle within a single growing season.
When choosing which plants to save seeds from, make sure they are open-pollinated or heirloom. Plants that are should be labelled as such, and this means you can harvest their seeds to grow the same plant again. Hybrid varieties have more varied outcomes, and harvesting and planting seeds from a hybrid plant won’t guarantee you the same plant you got the seeds from. It’s a bit of a mixed bag with hybrid plants, and you may not know what kind of variety you’ll be growing until they fruit!
The first step to harvesting your seeds is knowing when they’re ready to be harvested. For annual plants such as lettuce, the plant will start to bolt (flower) once there are more sunlight hours in the day. Flowering lettuce can look quite lanky and gangly, as the stems shoot up to the sky. The seeds will be ready to harvest once the flower heads have dried and there is fluffy white cotton coming from them. To collect the seeds, wait until the whole seed head looks dry and ready for picking, then pinch it off and place it in a bag. Alternatively, you can leave the flower head attached to the plant and shake the seeds from it into a bag over a number of days. Once harvested, you can choose to separate the seeds from the fluff and chaff or leave it attached, before popping the seeds into storage.
The most important tip to remember when storing seeds is to keep them in a cool, dry place, as moisture can allow seeds to rot or develop mold. There are many different ways people choose to store their seeds, but a common one is in paper envelopes that provide a dark, enclosed space and allow for the seeds to be labelled accordingly. Once in their respective envelopes, the seeds can then be placed in mason jars. One tip for ensuring seeds stay dry is to put a cheesecloth bag in the jar along with the seeds. It’s best to place the seeds in a fridge or freezer for long term storage, and to use as soon as possible. While there are some seeds that can last up to four years (such as beans, peas and carrots), most seeds are best used within a year.
Saving seeds can be a fun process, and can even save you money in the long-run! Start out with simple plants and before you know it you could have a whole collection of stored seeds waiting to be planted!
If you’re interested, make sure you let your Jim’s landscaper know! Call us on 1300 975 430 or book online.
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