Friday, July 18, 2008

Seeds, seeds and more seeds

In the parts of the world where it is now summer a lot of people are into gardening, whether it be in pots or plots. Recently quite a few people have been asking me about the possibility of saving seeds and whether or not saved seeds will they grow.

Every time someone asks, it is a déjà vu moment. Saving seeds and waxed paper is one of the fondest memories I have of my grandfather back on the little farm in Ohio.

Yes, you can save seeds and yes, they will grow. Whether or not your reasons for doing so now is the nasty economy or the fact that it has sort of developed into a fun fad, or you just want to know if it will work for you or not.

When you discover a tomato, squash or other vegetable or fruit that really tastes good, it’s those seeds you save. You will need some waxed paper or plastic wrap. You may use paper towels or even newspaper; it just is sometimes harder to get the dried seeds and pulp away from the paper.

Then you need a place for the seeds to dry. I suggest an indoor area rather than outside for several reasons. Outside you have the bug factor as well as sun or moisture that cannot be controlled to deal with. The bugs or squirrels may find the seeds and by nibbling destroy the germ that causes the seed to grow. If you live in a very moist climate the seeds may mold and spoil rather than dry. In extremely hot climates, sometimes it is too hot and they bake.

You may rinse the pulp from the seeds or allow them to dry first and then remove it. If seeds are very small, such as tiny tomato seeds, I prefer to dry them with the pulp on rather than washing away a lot of the seeds in the process. Simply spread the seeds out as flat as possible. Sometimes the pulp, as in squash or melons, will make a thicker layer than just a layer of seed. That’s okay, it just takes a little longer to thoroughly dry. Do NOT dry seeds that you plan to plant in the oven or a dehydrator. That will destroy the growing capabilities. Pumpkin seeds that you are going to eat, yes. Pumpkin seeds that you want to grow, no. Allow the seeds to air-dry until they will pop off of the waxed paper as you run your fingers underneath. If they are still sticky in spots allow more drying time. If you put them away too soon they will mold.

When my seeds are completely dry I put them in baggies and using a felt tipped pen write on the bag the kind of seed that it is. I then store multiple bags of saved seeds in a number-ten (#10 or gallon sized) can with a tight fitting lid with my other seeds on a shelf in the garage. Once dried, if the seeds are not stored properly, bugs, mice and the other elements will destroy them. Then in that instance, no they don’t grow.

There are some people who are suggesting that you need to store your seeds in the refrigerator. I don’t, never have and still have had great success with saving seeds.

This is a fun item to share with others who enjoy gardening and talking to plants. Special seeds bring memories as well as produce.

So go ahead and be brave. All kinds of good produce is now coming on, that means seeds. And yes, the same process works for produce that you have bought at the store. However, the produce manager may look at you a little strange if you ask, “Does this tomato or green pepper have really good seeds?’

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Kim Thompson said...

Thanks for this info. I've always wondered about that, and now I know. I love your blog. There's always tons of useful tips.