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Seeds, Preserving Seeds
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I tried saving seeds the first season when we bought this home.  I haven't yet tried to replant the saved seeds and from the information below, it sounds like it can be done but know-how is helpful. 
 
I don't yet have the confidence to trust myself, so continue to use purchased seed packets and starter plants from nursery.  I plan to give this a try and will put my experiences on this page, but for now, let an expert tell us how to save and preserve seeds.

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How to Save Seeds

      - Part 1 -

      by Judy Gaunt
 
      Since I've been saving seeds for over ten years now, I'd like to pass on  some of the knowledge I've gathered about the subject to help you along the way.
 
      First of all, it's necessary to know how to keep varieties pure and this varies with each type of plant. Then, you need to know how to prepare,  clean and store the resulting seeds.
 
      This article and the one in the next issue will concern themselves with  the annual garden plants. In future issues, I will discuss the biennials as well as give some hints on seed cleaning and storage.
 
 
      Solanaceae
 
      The nightshade family contains tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes as well as garden huckleberries, tomatillos and various ground cherries.
      The tomato is grown by more home gardeners than any other vegetable. Since many tomatoes commonly grown are hybrids it must be remembered that while hybrid seed will grow, you can't be sure what the result will be. The new tomatoes may resemble their grandparents or great grandparents rather than the plants you started with. This is true of all hybrid seed.
 
      But if you're starting with an open-pollinated (non hybrid) variety you can save tomato seed by cutting the fruits in half, scraping the seeds and the juices around them into a container and letting it ferment for three days at room temperature. This removes the gel coating from around the seeds and also prevents the transmission of some seed-borne diseases.
      After fermenting, rinse the seeds under running water in a strainer and then put them on a small plate to dry. The seeds should be stirred occasionally the first few days to keep them from sticking together. Let
them dry thoroughly before storing.
 
      Regarding cross-pollination, the newer varieties are much less apt to cross as the pistil is covered in the flower and not exposed to passing bees. Older, heirloom varieties are more likely to be crossed because of the flower structure. Separate these varieties from other tomatoes as much as possible.
 
 
      Peppers
 
      Peppers are self pollinating but can be crossed by insects so different varieties must be either caged or separated by 500 feet to maintain purity.
 
      Let the fruit mature before removing seeds. Remember that when working with hot peppers, rubber gloves should be worn. Also don't rub your eyes at this time as the hot pepper oil can be extremely irritating.
 
 
      Eggplant
 
      Eggplant usually self pollinates but insects can sometimes be a problem so to be sure, different varieties should be separated by 50 feet, or caged.
      To obtain seeds, first let the fruit ripen, then grate or blend the bottom part of the fruit which contains most of the seeds. Put the pulp in a bowl, fill with water and squeeze the gratings with your fingers,       separating the seeds from the pulp. The pulp will rise and good seeds will sink to the bottom.
 
 
      Potato
 
      While usually propagated vegetatively, the potato can be grown from seeds which occasionally form on the plants. Let the seed balls mature, then squeeze the seeds into a bowl. Add water and pour off the floating debris, saving the seeds which sink to the bottom. Grow the same as tomato seedlings.
 
      Some of the smaller nightshades, such as cherry and currant tomatoes,  tomatillos, ground cherries etc., can be processed in a blender and treated the same as potato seeds.
 
 
      Legumes
 
      The usual families of beans and peas are common bean, pea, lima bean, fava bean, soybean and runner bean.
      While the families do not cross, different varieties within the same family will cross. The amount of crossing varies in different locations.
      Here in Eastern Ontario where I live, I have had some crossing between bean varieties but in an area with fewer wild bees perhaps there would be less. So I would recommend separating varieties as much as possible. To be absolutely sure, plants can be grown in cages or blossoms bagged with spun polyester until the pods begin to form.
 
      The way I deal with legumes is to wait until the pods are quite dry and the plant is drying up and leaves falling off. Then I cut the whole plant and place in the carport or shed to dry further. Later, I either pick off  the pods and shell them by hand or else put the whole plants in a feed sack or on a large sheet of plastic and beat them with a stick until the seeds fall out. They have to be quite dry for this though and sometimes in a damp fall they never get to the right stage and have to be shelled by hand.
 
      Pods can also be picked while still in the garden, as long as they are beginning to dry up and becoming flexible rather than stiff. Make sure all seeds are placed in an airy, dry place once shelled to continue to dry.

      Mould is the enemy of seed savers.
 
 
      Lettuce
 
      Lettuce seeds are quite easy to produce although they are difficult to clean. Just let the plants go to seed. They grow two or three feet tall and are covered with small yellow flowers. Eventually, small seed pods form which are ready when dried up and brown. The pods can be individually picked by hand and opened up, which is time consuming but the best way to get clean seed. The heads can also be shaken over a paper bag, which is easier but results in a lot of chaff with the seeds. The seeds are so light that they're difficult to separate but if just for your own use the whole mixture can be planted and the seeds will still grow.
 
      One bonus from producing your own lettuce seed is that early next spring you'll get lots of volunteer lettuce plants which you can transplant where you wish. You'll have early lettuce without much trouble.
 
      Lettuce is self-pollinating generally but ocassionally can cross with wild lettuce, a common weed. Any growing nearby should be removed.

Part 2, continued from Part 1
 

How To Save Seeds
 
FOR TOMATOES

Tomatoes are self-pollinated, meaning the male and female parts are in the same flower, and that they usually pollinate their own flowers, with no help from
insects, so many seed savers grow varieties side by side and still get around 100% pure seed, though many think that varieties should be separated by 6'-15'+ to make sure of 100%.
 
Harvest very ripe fruit for seed saving, cut in half and squeeze into a bucket, then put the bucket in a warm spot & let seeds and pulp ferment for 3-4 days, (the mold that grows will kill disease on the seeds) at that time the pulp will come to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom,after 3-4 days add more water and stir vigorously, then pour off the pulp, (you may have to add more water 3 or 4 times before the seeds are clean) then drain the seeds and put on sheets of heavy paper to dry, after about 10-15 days your seeds should be dry, when dry scrape off and put in a air-tight carton, store ina cool dry place, (the freezer is great!) They should keep for 10-50 years if stored in the right conditions
 
 
FOR PEPPERS

Peppers are self pollinated, but some insect pollination will happen, it is best to separate varieties by 35'-100' or so, for nearly 100% pure seed.
Save seed from completely ripe fruit. Peppers are easy to save seed from. Simply take seeds out & dry.
 
 
FOR EGGPLANT

Eggplant are self-pollinated, so it is safe most the time only to separate varieties 15'-25' and still get nearly 100% pure seeds,(Red fruited types need
greater separation) flowers generally pollinate themselves before they open, so most of the time you need not worry too much about insects, I have found
eggplants planted side by side will cross at a rate of 2-10% of the fruit, so a little separation is needed when you plant 2 or more varieties in the same
species, (note there is 7+ species).
 
Harvest only very ripe fruit that has changed color all the way, and that is starting to look old, scoop pulp out of fruit and grind pulp, then put in a bucket, fill with water and wash pulp away, (seeds will sink to the bottom) drain and put on sheets of paper to dry. Keep cool & dry.
 
 
FOR CORN

Corn is wind pollinated, and varieties must be separated by 1/2+ mile for pure seed, or you can plant different varieties a few weeks apart, so varieties are not pollinating at the same time and get 100% pure seed, in zone 6, you can plant at least 3 varieties using this method. Or you can hand pollinate, see the book "Seed to Seed" for info.
 
 
FOR LETTUCE

Lettuce is self pollinated, and usually will not cross, the USDA recommends isolation of 12', but many people plant varieties side by side, lettuce needs
cool weather.
 
 
FOR THE BRASSICA FAMILY

Varieties within the same species must be separated by mile for pure seed, most types are biennial and have to over winter before they will produce seed,
however some species such as radish’s and Chinese cabbage will commonly yield seed in the first summer.
 
 SEE BOOK"SEED TO SEED" FOR GREATER DETAIL.
 
 
FOR BEANS AND PEAS

Common beans and peas are self pollinating so you can plant side by side and still save around 99% pure seed, though some growers do isolate small distances
for 100% pure seed. Harvest dry seed. For beans like Runners and Limas, see book "SEED TO SEED"
 
 
FOR OKRA

self pollinated crop, but it has large open flowers that bee’s easily cross pollinate, so if you grow more than 1 variety, you need to isolate varieties by a 1/4-1 mile, for pure seed, or you can tape small paper or cloth bags over flowers buds,(before they open) to keep bee’s out and that works great, take bags off after flowers dry and mark the pods with a string. Harvest pods when dry.)
 
 
Basic Seed Saving info for Squash, Melons, Cucumbers and the whole Cucurbitaceae
family
-

Tape the male and female flowers shut the evening before they open, to keep bees out, Squash are cross pollinating having both male and female flowers. You can grow 1 of each species in the same garden and save pure seeds, since species do not normally cross.
 
If you grow more than one variety in a species you will need to separate them by 1/4 mile for pure seed, or you can hand pollinate the flowers and keep insects from crossing varieties. Here is the info on hand
pollinating- There are male flowers and female flowers on the same plant, the male flowers have long anthers, and the female flower has a stigma and a small fruit under the flower, all the Cucurbitaceae flowers open in the morning, except true Gourds (L. siceraria)so they are taped shut in the evening and then reopened in the morning, and are hand pollinated, first open the male flowers & tear the petals off, then open the female flower, brush the end of male anthers on the female stigma, (note it is best to use 2 male flowers on the females to make sure of pollination) after that you simply tape the female shut again, to make sure insects can not get inside, and tie a strong plastic string to the flowers hand pollinated- so you will remember not to pick them tell they’re
ripe! and that is about it!
 
Pick the fruit when well ripe, if you store for a
few weeks there will be more seed that will germinate, make sure you pick cucumbers after they turn yellow, and squash when the shell gets very hard. For squash, melons, etc. Cut in half & scoop seeds out, put in a bucket and fill with water & wash off pulp, the good seeds will sink to the bottom, drain and dry the seeds on sheets of newspaper, dry very well, and put in a air tight container, and keep dry and cool, (in a freezer is great) seed will keep for
4-10+ years if stored properly. happy seed saving!

How To Save Seeds

      - Part 2 -
      by Judy Gaunt
 
 
      Cucurbits
 
      The squash and melon family is a large and varied group of plants. As with legumes, crossing can only take place between different varieties in the     same family, not between members of different families.
 
 
      Cucumbers
 
      Different varieties of cucumbers will cross with each other. However,   Armenian cucumbers, West Indian gherkins and serpent gourds belong to       other families and will not cross. Separate varieties by one half mile or  else just grow one variety. Otherwise hand pollination is necessary. Space does not allow a description of this, perhaps in another article.
 
      To save cucumber seeds, the fruits must be allowed to mature far past the  stage they're usually eaten until they're ripe and have turned orange or       yellow. Remove the seeds and let them ferment in a pail for three days the  same as tomato seeds to remove the gel around them. Then they can be       cleaned by repeatedly filling the pail with water and pouring off the top layer. The good seeds will remain on the bottom while the debris will  float and can be poured off. Dry the seeds thoroughly before storing.
 
      The rest of the cucurbits are easier to do as the seeds don't have the gel coating and don't need fermenting.
 
 
      Melons
 
      All melons will cross with each other so must be either grown in isolation  or hand pollinated. The seeds are easily removed and dried. Remember that
      hybrid melons may not come true.
 
 
      Watermelons
 
      These will only cross with other watermelons or citrons. Once again, the seeds are easily processed.
 
 
      Squash
 
      These are rather complicated in that there are four different families of  squash commonly grown here. As usual, the families don't cross but members  of the same family will and it's necessary to know which family a  particular variety is in. One member of each family can be grown together without crossing, which is the method I use. Otherwise, hand pollination is necessary.
 
      Examples of the most common members of each family are:
      Cucurbita maxima: Atlantic Giant, Banana, Buttercup, Golden Delicious, Hubbards, Turbans. 

      Cucurbita mixta: Crooknecks, Cushaws, Tennessee Sweet Potato squash.

      Cucurbita moschata: Butterbush, Butternut. 

      Cucurbita pepo: Acorn, Crookneck, Delicata, Pumpkins, Scallops, Spaghetti squash, Zucchini.
 
      Let the fruits mature fully before harvesting for seeds, even those  usually eaten when immature such as zucchini. The seeds are easily removed although you may need an ax to chop the squash open.
 
Germination is better if fruits are allowed to age for at least three weeks after harvesting before removing seeds. As usual, let seeds dry thoroughly before storing.
 
 
      Corn
 
      Corn is difficult for the seed saver as in many areas, acres of field corn are grown that can be crossed with your open-pollinated corn by the wind.

      Most corn grown these days is hybrid so the seeds will not come pure if grown. An open-pollinated variety must be either hand pollinated or grown in isolation to maintain its purity.
 
 
      Biennials
 
      Now that you know all about saving the seeds of many annual vegetables, it's time to learn about another group, the biennials. These plants have       seeds which are more complicated to produce although it's not necessarily more difficult.
 
      The biennials consist of all the root vegetables, from onions to turnips as well as some members of the cabbage family.
 
      Onions, carrots, beets, parsnips, salsify, turnips and rutabagas are all treated in much the same way. They're harvested in the fall, stored over   the winter and replanted in the spring. The second year they flower and  produce seeds.
 
      For winter storage, I'm lucky to have an unheated basement, which keeps  the root crops cool enough. I store them in large plastic pails with lids.
 
      You could also use a root cellar, either indoor or out, or maybe even store them where they grew in the ground if you covered them with enough bags of leaves or other insulating material. Those growers in the milder areas can leave these plants outside to winter over.
 
      The only plant you would not want to store this way is onions, which  require a drier storage area. We keep onions in an unheated room in the house.
 
      In early spring the roots are planted out. Again, remember to keep  everything labelled, both while being stored and once planted. It's amazing how easy it is to forget vital information after a few months,      even if you told yourself you'd remember.
 
      Some people worry about carrots crossing with the wild carrots so  prevalent in many areas, but I have found that my carrots bloom earlier than the wild carrots and it doesn't seem to be a problem. As with the other vegetables, if you plant more than one variety you may have some crossing.
 
      The plants will grow quite tall, taller than they were the first year and eventually seeds will form. I usually cut the seed heads and hang them up to dry or keep in a paper bag until they're dry enough to remove the seeds.
  
     The other biennials are in the cabbage family. This is a rather complicated family as there are a few annuals in it and there are many members which will cross pollinate with each other.
 
      Chinese cabbage, mustards and some radishes are the annual family members  and saving seeds from them is easy. Just let them flower and go to seed  and then collect the seed when dry.
 
      One group "Brassica oleracea" contains broccoli, Brussels sprouts,  cabbage, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi. These will all cross so it's best to only try to save seeds from one member or else separate them by a half mile.
 
      Another group "Brassica rapa" consists of turnip, Chinese cabbage, and  Chinese mustard so only grow seed from one of these.
      Rutabaga (Brassica napus) "the large winter turnips" don't cross with  the small summer turnip (B. rapa) but will cross with Siberian kale and rape.
 
      Since these plants are insect pollinated and not self-fertile, caging them is difficult. Another thing to remember is that it's necessary to grow several plants for seed to maintain vigor in the variety. Six plants is  the bare minimum but more would be better.
 
      The whole plant including the roots has to be dug up and brought in for  the winter, if in a cold winter area. If planted several to a pail,  (turnips don't have to be planted) they usually survive the winter      although they look quite pale and yellowish by spring. Then plant them  outside and hope they have the vigor to survive and begin growing. If they  do, they'll produce lots of yellow flowers, which the bees love, and then lots of seeds.
 
      Brassicas produce an abundance of long seed pods which can be harvested after drying out. Dry them further under shelter and then beat them in a    plastic bag or feed sack or on a sheet of plastic until the seeds fly out.
 
      Again, make sure the seeds are thoroughly dry before storing.
 
 
 
 
      Cleaning and Storing Tips
 
      Now I'd like to tell you of some ways I've found suitable for cleaning and  storing the many kinds of seeds it's possible to save.
 
      Freeing them from their seed pods or whatever other covering nature provided them is the first step.
 
      Small quantities of seed can be simply rubbed between the hands. Some tougher types of seed pods can be rubbed against a piece of screening with      the sole of a running shoe to separate the seeds from their stems or pods.
 
      Grains are one kind I do this way. I've already mentioned beating dry,  brittle seed pods with a stick over a sheet of plastic. And I find it  rather relaxing to shell some seeds such as beans or peas by hand while watching TV in the evening.
 
      Then you have to clean all the chaff from them. I have a series of six screens, each a different size which are helpful in sifting some kinds of seeds.
 
      An ancient method I use a lot is to pour the seeds back and forth between two large bowls outside on a breezy day, which will blow away most of the      chaff. Just be sure that you don't also let many of the seeds blow away!
 
      Another method is to pour the seeds onto a sheet spread in front of a fan. The heavier, best quality seeds will fall onto one area of the sheet.
 
      Remember to keep the seeds dry and exposed to the air at all times until  they're ready to store. Mould will quickly kill them. The top of the refrigerator is a warm, dry place in most homes. I use baskets – of which I have a large collection – for many of them.
 
Baskets enable air to  circulate all around the seeds. Small plates or bowls are useful for the small seeds that are not suitable for baskets.
 
      When the seeds are thoroughly dry they can be stored. Larger seeds are  ready when they will break rather than bend. I sometimes use the bite test for beans and peas. When they are too hard to be bitten they're ready.
 
      For storage, airtight containers are best. Glass jars are ideal and can be  used in all sizes, from baby food jars to gallon bottles.
 
      During storage, it's important to keep the seeds as dry and cool as  possible. A collection of seeds in paper envelopes could be placed in a  gallon bottle. The freezer is good for long time storage if the seeds are in an air-tight container.
 
      I hope these articles will have given you the encouragement and help you  need in order to begin saving seeds. Maybe I should warn you that once you  begin working with nature in this way, it may become a compulsion as it  did with me and you'll find yourself with the same large hoards of seeds.
 
      Good luck with it anyway!
 
 
                                    more, see part 2

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WITH PROPER STORAGE, GARDENERS CAN SAVE SEEDS FOR NEXT YEAR

  June 13, 1997 
  UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
 
-- Gardeners usually have a few extra seeds or seed
  packages left over after planting their gardens, but a gardening expert in  Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences says leftover seeds can be   stored to grow another day.
 
  "Seeds are dormant living things that do not germinate to produce a new plant   until warm temperatures and moisture break their dormancy," explains J. Robert  Nuss, professor of ornamental horticulture. "To keep seeds dormant, you must   keep them cool and dry."
 
  Nuss says some garden seeds can be stored for long periods without much  special treatment. He lists the relative shelf life of some popular plantings.
 
 
    Five Years: Cucumber, endive and muskmelon. 

    Four Years: Cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, pumpkin, radish and squash. 

    Three Years: Beans, celery, carrot, lettuce, pea, spinach and tomato.

    Two Years: Beets and pepper seeds. 

    One Year: Sweet corn, onion, parsley and parsnips.
 
 
  Nuss says that these relative seed shelf lives can be greatly improved by  using several simple storage methods available to almost any homeowner. The   key to storage is maintaining a constant temperature--preferably between 35   and 41 degrees Fahrenheit--and eliminating excess moisture.
 
  "Moisture is the enemy," warns Nuss. "Germination is hastened by high humidity  and moisture, either in contact with the seed or in the storage container."
 
  Nuss recommends the following storage methods:

  --  Closed containers. "Use cans with screw-top lids, glass jars, or individual seed envelopes sealed in glass jars," Nuss says.
 
   -- Plastic 35 mm film containers are ideal for seed storage."

   -- Drying Agents. Placing an absorbent material in the container extends the  life of the seed. "Dry powdered milk works well," he says. "It attracts     moisture from its surroundings, so don't open the storage container except  to use the seeds or change the drying agent."
 
  Nuss offers the following steps to create a powdered milk drying package.

    1. Unfold and stack four facial tissues.

    2. Put two heaping tablespoons of powdered milk on one corner.

    3. Fold and roll the tissue into a small packet, sealing the ends with tape  or rubber bands.

    4. Place the packet in the larger container holding the seeds and seal the   container. The drying agent should be changed every six months.

    5. Store in a refrigerator or a similar cool spot. "Do not put it in the  freezer," Nuss says.

  "This method is a great way to save commercial seeds or those you have collected from friends," Nuss adds.

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--Beware of Snapdragons--

--Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade--
 
--My husband said if I buy any more perennials he would leave me...gosh, I'm going to miss that man!--