Monday, October 11, 2010

Saving Seeds

For several years, I've been growing herbs and vegetables in containers on my apartment patio. In the beginning, I purchased bags of soil ... and for several years later, continued to buy bags of soil. Then it occurred to me that I could compost ... even in a small space. So, using a large planter, the process was started. All of our veggie peels, seeds, etc. (anything which would normally be tossed or sent down the disposal) was added to the bin. The compost did it's job, without smells, and provided us with lovely, nutrient-rich soil for the next year's planting.

An interesting "by the way" happened in the lettuce bin ... other plants were growing. Were they weeds? Nope ... they were tomato and squash plants ... volunteer plants. Evidently, some of the seeds which lay dormant in the compost bin, were now ready to grow. And grow they did! They grew and produced ... sweet tomatoes and delicious squash. They were healthy and hardy ... and better than anything we've ever eaten.

The next year, the same thing happened. Volunteer plants grew and provided us with the best produce in our garden.

So I began to think about collecting seeds. It turns out that collecting seeds is easy. When we sliced an heirloom tomato, cut into a squash or trimmed the green beans, we took some of the seeds and placed them on a paper napkin (I know ... better not to use paper napkins but read on and you'll see that even they are used). Once the seeds completely dried, they were put in envelopes (a great use for those return envelopes that come in the mail with advertisements). The seeds were then stored in a dry place for the next year.

When it was time to plant, we cut small sections of the paper napkins, with the seeds stuck to them, and planted ... seeds and paper together. The paper decomposed (wonderful recycling) and the seeds grew. And then they produced ... strong, healthy vegetables.

Collecting seeds is economical (just check the price of a small packet of seeds). It's earth-friendly because those seeds, which typically get tossed out and sent to a landfill where there isn't enough oxygen to grow, will be used. There's also something fascinating about collecting seeds ... the idea that the lineage of a plant goes on and the vegetables which we eat have a history. It's like touching the best part of the past.

So ... today's tip is easy ... save some seeds for next year's garden.

As always, I would love to hear from you!