A skill that is often overlooked is the knowledge and experience of collecting seeds. It is part of working towards being self-sufficient, which in turn is a foundation of Prepping. Being able to grow plants, then to collect seed from them for the next season makes sense. Of course, the process of collecting seeds can be time consuming and can be tedious… so much so that I often wonder why I bother. I can spend a couple of hours collecting radish seeds (as I did the other day), and have a cup of seeds to show for my effort. Basically, 2 hours of work for $8 of seeds… not the best investment of time in of itself, yet I believe it is important. Important as a skill, and also it allows me to spend time outside working it the garden when the season is coming to an end. While I was collecting my radish seeds I was helped by my daughter, allowing us so spend some quality time together. As a father, I can’t put a price on that time.
I have been working on this skill for some time, usually only in the Autumn when the plants in my garden go to seed. I am not talking about collecting seeds from my fruit trees… although I do this too. When I eat an especially delicious peach, or find a cherry that is amazingly good, I keep the seed in order to attempt to grow another. What I am talking about when I discuss collecting seeds is primarily annual seeds. For those of you not aware of what an annual plant is, it is a plant that will grow for one season only. Of course, many plants which we consider annual, are not truly annual… it is simply that they act in this way when not in their native habitat.
I find the plants from which are the easiest to collect seeds are:
At the moment my Radish seeds are ready to harvest. I am collecting these from the plants now that the pods are dry. Dry pods mean that the seeds within are dry, which will allow them to be stored easier. You to not want to store wet seeds, as they will rot and destroy themselves as well as any other seeds stored with them.
The process I use for radish is to twist the seed pods to burst them open. When they are open I rub the dried seed pod between my fingers to loosen the seeds, before gently blowing on the material in my palm. The dried plant fragments will blow away and I will be left with the heavier seeds. I place these in a bowl and once they are all collected they are stored in a clean jar for the next season.
There are ways to short cut the procedure… as the plant will be going to seed without any real effort on our part, you can cover the seeding sections with a plastic bag. As the seeds dry and fall from the plant, they are collected and easily stored. Urban Food Garden has a great article on collecting lettuce seeds. I would only recommend collecting seeds from plants which produce a product with which you are satisfied. I wouldn’t bother collecting seeds from a radish plant that produced small or bad tasting products… I want to grow good quality vegetables.
Please let me know if you are interested in this, as I will of into more details about the collection of other seeds.