Monday, July 28, 2008

First, you get non-hybrid seeds...

Then you have to know what to do to obtain seeds from what you have grown.
Pretty elementary, really, when you think about the fact that non-hybrid seeds are the kind that will produce plants that will give you seeds to make another crop, while hybrid seeds are such that they are a one-shot deal, and if you want more produce, you will have to go buy more seeds. I understood in theory. Then I thought about produce that doesn't have easily harvested seeds. I had mentioned this to my best source (Mom), so while I was down visiting my parents this past week, she decided to give me a little lesson.
We were in the backyard, when she pointed to a plant that was topped with fluffy white plant matter. She asked me what it was. I didn't know, but I ventured a guess--Queen Anne's lace? (BEHHHHH. There was no buzzer sound, but it would have been appropriate.) Try again. Turns out it was a carrot plant gone to seed.
Apparently, in order to harvest carrot seeds, you have to leave a plant in the ground, and the following growing season, it will go to seed. In the case of carrot seeds, they start out as fluffy white flowery growth, but then you have to dry them. The end, plantable product is a black seed.
Well, that's one kind of plant down. I really have so much to learn. The thing is, if you don't know how to harvest seeds from non-hybrid plants, you might as well have hybrid ones, because the result is the same--no seeds for the next year's crops. Who would have known that in some cases you have to wait a year to get your seeds ? (Obviously not me. :) Anyway, in this matter, as in so many others, the only way you're going to stay ahead is to plan ahead. Seed storage will hopefully eventually turn into food storage, so the learning goes on...


The Scavenger said...

Marie, this is a subject that is too often overlooked by so many of us would-be farmers. I too would love to learn more about long term storage of seeds. In the future these seeds will mostly be a much sought after trade item. Good post.


riverwalker said...

Easier to buy the non-hybrid seed packets but also good to know how to harvest the seeds. Some plants if left alone will even start to go wild and come up on their own. Great post.


Marie said...

Chris--I wouldn't be surprised if non-hybrid seeds became more valuable--they seem to be pretty hard to find now. I just hope I can figure out how to take advantage of the seeds that they produce so that I won't have to buy as many or any at all. Thanks for your comment!

Riverwalker--It would be useful to know which ones I can just leave alone--I'm just in the process of figuring out which plants do what! Fortunately, there are a lot of plants that produce seeds that one can just save right away and use later. Thanks for your input!

Ron said...

This is a great topic!!! I want to learn more too. I've read that onions are the same way... they are a biennial, and will produce seed the 2nd year. It is nice to have blissful ignorance when going to the store to pick up seeds... I guess quite a few seeds can cross with each other, so one has to be careful about which varieties get planted in the garden if they are going to keep seeds.

I know that Karl and Tabitha over at O'Melays saves seeds, and exchanges them with others. That's a pretty cool idea, then people can grow a variety of a type of plant, save a bunch of seed, and then swap to get different varieties the next year.

I have some radishes I let go to seed. They just might be the first seed I've ever saved. :)

Great topic, enjoyed your post.


Marie said...

Isn't there a saying that goes something like, "Education is learning what you didn't know you didn't know?" Kind of applies with all the stuff I am trying to learn about gardening--it never occured to me to think about the fact that mixing certain varieties with other varieties could mix up your seeds. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
I always think it's a good thing when people work together and help each other--I find that bloggers help each other a lot with information, even if they can't trade seeds, which I also think is a great idea.
Good luck with the radishes--we're planning to plant some in our garden soon! If they come up, then we'll worry about the seeds... :)