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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tools used for Seed Saving and Starting Seeds

This is part 4 of the Tools series. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 can be found by clicking the links.

I proclaimed yesterday that I was going to talk about tools used for an orchard. Yet I noticed one thing missing from the Garden series, and no one called me out on it!

Seed Saving is a very important part of homesteading. We can not be self reliant if we are forced to buy seeds year after year. When it does come to seed saving, the tools used are very primitive. Nothing fancy needed here.

The most important tool that you have on hand is your own garden. And it might be a little difficult, but you know that perfect vegetable or fruit you just plucked, DON'T EAT IT! It is the best ones of your crop that you will want to seed save.

Depending one the veggie, you will either need to cut it open, wash the guts off of the fruit, and set out to dry completely {completely is important, otherwise you will get mold}. This is a great way to save your melon and gourd seeds. You may go ahead and eat those.

Tomatoes need to be gutted. Sometimes you can still use the remaining tomato depending on the recipe you are using. You need a jar, water and a window sill. Place the guts in the jar of water, then into your window. A spoon will be needed to stir the contents occasionally. After a few days, a white moldy foam will appear at the surface. Skim it off with your spoon. Use a colander to strain, the seeds that sank to the bottom of the jar are the ones you need to keep. Allow them to dry out completely on a newspaper. If you smoke, use the cellophane wrapper to store the seeds in and place in your freezer until ready to plant. Non smokers, well go make friends with a smoker.

Potatoes need a dark dry area and a paper bag. Use what you can and if roots start growing on them, leave them for seed later. Sweet potatoesneed the vines cut and placed into a jar of water to form roots.

Items like carrots

or onions, need to be allowed to flower. Seed saving is a mater of cutting (shears) the flowers after they have gone to seed, into a paper bag.

Sunflowers and other edibles seeds and root nuts {ok peanuts} need to be cured in a dry warm place, separated from one another. Sunflower heads should be hung upside down in your barn or equivalent (string and rafters needed) with a cheese cloth/bed sheet hung underneath them to catch any fallen seeds. Peanuts after being allowed to cure out of the ground for several days, should be placed in a used nylon stocking to keep.

I use old envelopes to store my seeds.


Starting your seeds is a devastating accomplishment. You might lose half to all of your seedlings. An old milk jug, small cardboard boxes, a hot frame, cold frame, window sill, grow lamp, hydroponics system, soil, and water are tools that might be needed.

We each have our own variation of how we do these things. Experiment a bit to see how and what works well for you.

Tomorrow, Tools for the Orchard { that is unless someone catches a Gardening subject I missed}


Chet said...

Just found your blog. Great stuff! Keep up the good work.

sugarcreekfarm said...

I'm curious as to how you handle cross-pollination. That's the main reason I haven't done seed saving. I don't have enough room to spread things out far enough to ensure nothing cross-pollinates. And I don't want to have to restrict myself to one variety of any given vegetable.

Phelan said...

cogresha, thank you, and welcome!

Sugarcreekfarm, I have not had any problems with cross pollination. At least not noticable problems. I grow several types of the same vegetables. When I have ended up with a cross strain, I seed saved it for the next year and see if it breeds true. Keep it if it does, ditch it if it doesn't. My corn has done this twice, both times they bred true. Corn has been the only one to have cross pollinated in the open. Other vegetables can have a very hard time doing so.

There isn't a reason to restrict yourself. Neighbors are a great way to get new seeds. One of mine is bringing me a hertiage pea that's origins are now unknown. It has been breeding true in his family for over a hundred years. I can't wait to see them.

Phelan said...

also, I find it interesting that you do not wish for cross pollination, yet do not want to resrict yourself to one species of vegetable. Cross breeding your plants can give you a new varity. As long as the seeds you buy are not GMO's then you should have relativly few problems. Naturally plants are going to reach out and try to procreate. Hybrids are not evil things, GMO's on the other hand could be. The diference between them is that a GMO has been carefully sliced and reconstructed to create what they consider the perfect fruit. While open pollinating is a gamble, because it is natural. The out come could be delicious or repulsive.

Anonymous said...

You can find instructions for saving vegetable seeds here:

The site is free. Included is a discussion for each vegetable about cross pollination and how to manage or avoid.

Phelan said...

Thank you Wiles.

sugarcreekfarm said...

Hee hee, I'm a computer programmer. This may explain why I wouldn't want things to cross-pollinate. I make my living creating predictable results :)

Phelan said...

Understand. It can be a little freaky when you don't know what you'll get. The link that wiles has there (you can click on the screen name for the same link) has ways to help avoid cross breeding your plants. I companian plant, and that helps a lot.

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