Re­silient Grow­ing

Seed sav­ing from some plants is easy, even for the in­ex­pe­ri­enced gar­dener, says Kim Stod­dart

Country Smallholding - - Contents -

Seed sav­ing

Al­though in Au­gust most thoughts are firmly fo­cused on try­ing to keep up with the pick­ing of pro­duce from your now har­vest-laden veg­etable plots, it is also a good time to con­sider leav­ing some plants in the ground for seed sav­ing come the au­tumn.

If you have never tried be­fore, 2018, with its plethora of dry sunny days, is look­ing like a good year to get started. As well as sav­ing money for the fol­low­ing sea­son, you will also be cre­at­ing home-pro­duced cap­sules which have been per­fectly adapted to the grow­ing con­di­tions where you are. While sav­ing all of your own seed would be time-con­sum­ing and a bit of a faff, pro­duc­ing at least some is hugely re­ward­ing and earns you many ad­di­tional re­silience brownie points and knock-on ben­e­fits.

Get­ting started Let­tuce and rocket Peas and beans

In a dry sum­mer, just leave the plants to bolt and flower nat­u­rally. You can then col­lect and store the re­sult­ing seed, or ex­per­i­ment with sprin­kling some di­rectly on the ground for self-ger­mi­na­tion in 2019. Peas are the eas­i­est to work with as there aren’t any con­cerns about them cross­ing with other va­ri­eties. Sim­ply leave some pods on your plants to fat­ten and dry out and then re­move to safely store away (in a sealed paper bag ide­ally) for the fol­low­ing year.

Beans are also good to save from, but the likes of run­ner or broad bean will po­ten­tially cross if you have an­other va­ri­ety also grow­ing on your patch. If you are just grow­ing one type then dry and store as usual. If, how­ever, you have a few va­ri­eties in the ground, all it means is that the seed you are pro­duc­ing might just be a mix of them all. This isn’t likely to be a bad thing. In fact, it could be great, but you just won’t know un­til the fol­low­ing sea­son. This is part of the fun. Dwarf French beans are also a re­li­able op­tion to work with.

Toma­toes and chill­ies

These are also good to save from. Both could mix with other va­ri­eties grown nearby, but this isn’t some­thing to be con­cerned about. In the case of chill­ies, it means that they are likely to be a bit hot­ter next year, which is (if you are a chilli lover) no bad thing. In the case of sav­ing chill­ies, you just eat the flesh and dry out the seed.

Tra­di­tional ad­vice dic­tates that tomato seed is sup­posed to be fer­mented first to

re­move the fleshy sur­round be­fore dry­ing. I think that is un­nec­es­sary work, so I would rec­om­mend one of two op­tions. If you have a green­house or poly­tun­nel, push a few ripe toma­toes into the ground at the end of the sea­son so they can ger­mi­nate the fol­low­ing spring. This is an old mar­ket gar­dener’s trick which is highly ef­fec­tive and fuss free. Or you can leave the seed to dry on a piece of card or paper. Make sure to leave a gap around each seed. It will stick to the card, but this can be planted along­side it next year. What could be eas­ier?

Kim Stod­dart teaches a range of re­silient grow-your-own cour­ses from her small­hold­ing in Ceredigion that are fo­cused around poly­tun­nel grow­ing and climate change gar­den­ing. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.green­rock­et­courses.com; tel: 07796 677178.

Kim with her kale in the process of setting seed

Peas in the pod

Ear­wigs don’t cause much of a prob­lem, al­though they do like corn on the cob

Run­ner beans dry­ing out in the pod will be saved

Rocket in flower

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