By Darren (Plot 219)
End of a season is the time to collect seeds for next year for your outgoing crops.
Apart from saving seeds for your own use, the shared seeds box in the shed is looking a little sparse, so think about adding some seeds to the collective pot, which will benefit other gardeners and also gives us some to sell for fundraising. And you may pick up something different for yourself!
So, how do you save seeds? There’s plenty of online resources, so search for your plant type and “saving seeds”. But to get you started, here’s some info on saving a few popular crop seeds for next season (based on personal experience – others may have different methods):
Lettuce and Spinach
Collect the seeds from the flower-heads by shaking or brushing them into a container – this can be done regularly whenever you’re at the plot whilst the plant is seeding. Collect once they’ve dried out a bit, don’t harvest whilst green. Whole seed heads can be hung upside-down in a paper bag to dry out, and the bag catches the seeds.
A bit more involved, but you of course get lots of plants for your efforts. Scoop out seeds (don’t worry if pulp is still attached). Place in glass jar with a little water and let sit for a few days, stirring or gently shaking daily. After a few days (slime will form on top), top up with warm water and let settle again. Then carefully pour off the water, taking pulp and immature seeds with it. You’ll be left with viable seeds at the bottom. Dry them out on paper then store.
Cucumber seeds can be saved the same way, but not from eating cucumbers – seed ones need to be left on the vine until they are yellow and dried out, then scrape seeds and pulp out.
Allow pods to dry out on the plant (a month or so after eating stage), then collect, peel and store ready for next year.
Keep the seeds when you cut up the capsicum or chili, and place on a paper towel to dry out. Once fully dried (ensure they are placed somewhere warm so mould doesn’t form), store in containers.
Allow ears to dry out on the plant, or harvest and hang in a cool, dry spot. Once dried, scrape seeds off cob by hand.
Good luck with your seed saving, don’t forget to share with others (directly or via the box in the shed), and send us any other tips for seed-saving.