During the 2014 Carolina Yard Gardening School a couple weeks ago, I took two classes and participated in two workshops. My last three posts were from the first class I took. Today, I will share what I learned in the second class I took – how to save your own heirloom seeds in such a way as to be sure they are pure and not cross-pollinated.
I mentioned in my last post that I had to replant all the spring seeds in my germination station. That’s right, all my tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and melons. Four trays of them. Why? Because after two weeks, nothing except one solitary watermelon germinated (and then died). Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero percent germination? With new seeds? No way. Something had to be wrong. So I dug into a couple of the cells and found moldy seeds. Huh? What went wrong!
I love a new year in the garden. It’s a chance to start fresh, to try new plants as well as new varieties of favorite veggies. Here in Zone 8, we have just started the winter planting season. (Ok, I know I’ve just made many of my northern readers green with envy. Sorry!) Friday is going to be a perfect day to plant, so I have only 2 more days to wait! What I’m planting!
It’s December, and many parts of the country are covered with ice and snow. But I’m willing to bet that hasn’t stopped you from dreaming about and planning your spring garden. For us gardeners, plants and seeds are never far from our thoughts.
So, despite the wintry weather, Seeds Savers Exchange is indulging our garden passions by broadcasting the webinar, “Growing Biennials for Seed” this coming Monday, December 16, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. EST (7:00 p.m. CST). If you want to learn how to grow – and collect seed from – biennials such as cabbage, kale, carrots, onions, beets, and more, register here and reserve your place today.
Above photo credit: Seed Savers Exchange
It may be November, but there’s still more we can learn about gardening. This month, Seed Savers Exchange is offering an educational seminar entitled “Dry Seed Harvesting and Cleaning.” It will teach us how to save and store seed from dry seeded crops like lettuce, beans, peas, corn, flowers, herbs, etc. If you’d like to learn the proper time to harvest seeds, different methods of threshing and winnowing, and proper seed storage, then sign up with me! The webinar takes place this coming Monday, November 25, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time (7:00 p.m. Central time). What a great way to spend an autumn evening!
(Above photo credit: Seed Savers Exchange)
Well, it’s official. I’m a real farmer now. I’m saving my own seed, AND I’ve already sown a new crop from the seed I saved. While I was planting my lima beans a week or so ago, I ran out of seed and still had several more rows to plant. So, I grabbed my basket of dried lima bean pods (from the spring planting) and shucked enough to plant the last few rows. And guess what? My seed had a substantially higher germination rate than the seed I bought! Yee-ha! Just call me Farmer Ro!
(Above photo credit: http://www.people-clipart.com)
Plant population size. I have to admit, I never thought about it. I figured, if you want to save seed from your heirloom plants, you just save the seed. I never thought about having a minimum number of plants within a cultivar in your garden in order to have a sufficient gene pool to continue growing healthy plants. Who knew? Well, Seed Savers Exchange knows, and they want to share that information with us. [Above photo credit: www.seedsavers.org] Register for webinar!
It’s onion harvesting time in South Carolina, and my Red Creole onions bolted weeks ago. When I harvested the last of my crop this past week, I decided to let five of them remain so the flowers could mature and produce seed. Because Red Creole onions are an heirloom variety (not hybrid), I want to collect the seed to plant next year. Learn how!
Last night, I was surprised to see that a few of my seedlings were ready to be transplanted from their tiny germination cells to larger containers – in just a little over two weeks. What an exciting moment! I whipped out my supplies, ready to help my “babies” graduate from the nursery to a big plant cup. But wait, there’s more!