Monday, September 19, 2011

Seed Saving Time

Broccoli plant with flowers (not yet gone to seed)
Fall is seed saving time. I love saving seeds because I'm fascinated by their variety of forms and strategies, and I love seeing the plants through the full cycle from planting a seed to collecting seeds for next year. Typically a single plant will produce hundreds (maybe thousands) of seeds. We can collect seeds from the most successful plants and use them to replant next season.

There are some drawbacks to seed saving. For one thing, it requires letting the plants get messy looking. Seeds are the last thing a plant makes before dying, so the plants are often tall, dry, and mangy looking by the time the seeds are ready. Also, we are not too vigilant on separating plants in the same botanical family, so we may end up with some interesting cross-breeds next year. We'll plant some of them as an experiment and also continue to use some store-bought seed.

So far this year we've saved seed from kale, lettuce, endive, radishes, coriander, chard, mustard greens, and broccoli. Soon we'll be saving our tomato seeds, okra, peppers, and more. Last week I collected broccoli seed:

Messy looking broccoli plants full of seed pods

Close-up of broccoli seed pods

Inside the dry seed pods are a row of brown broccoli seeds ready to be collected and saved for next year's planting

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