Why Is Saving Heirloom Vegetable Seeds Important?
The importance of organic gardening and the need for saving organic seeds is nothing new to us! Each one of us should try our hands in organic gardening sometime. Organic food is healthiest for our body and our environment, mainly due to the methods adopted in growing the crops. With organic gardening we ensure that our farms and gardens are free from toxic materials and we have healthy food to eat. This is one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of heirloom vegetables and the growing need of saving seeds.
So, what is saving vegetable seeds all about? Ripe fruits and vegetables in any garden naturally fall off if they’re not picked and sometimes their seeds sprout naturally when spring arrives. Saving seeds is a way to mimic nature helping seeds to grow under given circumstances. However, we need to remember that seeds from openly pollinated plants produce the same crop every year.
You will not be able to save seeds from hybrid varieties as these normally have different features from their parent plant. Organic seeds from open pollinated plants can produce the same crop next year – when you are saving seeds. If you have bought a packet of seeds, you can check the packet, which will tell you if the seeds are open pollinated variety or hybrid variety. Organic seeds, when saved, will grow into vegetables which resemble the parent plant of the same taste, structure and firmness.
Tomato – Cut the tomato down the middle horizontally. Scrape the seeds and “mush” into a cup and add a few tablespoons of water; let sit for a few days to ferment. Once natural fermentation is complete, rinse seeds in a sieve and drain all water. Place on a plate to dry for about a week and then store in a paper or plastic envelope.
Pepper – To save pepper seeds, you need a mature, red pepper (depending on the variety of pepper you are growing). This should be opened, seeds scraped in a plate and dried in a shaded place. The seeds should be completely dry for saving and storing for the next seasons.
Eggplant – To save eggplants, these should be left in vines for a longer duration – stage beyond which you would have actually picked for your kitchen. An eggplant seed can be saved only when it turns hard, off colored and hard.
Beans and Peas – To save peas and beans seeds the pods need to be left on the plant till these are completely dry. Once ‘rattle dry’ the pods can be removed for saving and storing purpose.
Summer Squash – To save summer squash for your next organic garden you need to wait till they are completely dry, so dry that you cannot make a dent using your fingernail. You can then cut it open, scrape out the seeds and dry it to save for the next year.
Whenever you are saving vegetable seeds you need to remember that these should be kept in airtight containers, except for legumes which can be kept in breathable bags. To keep all organic seeds dry, you can add half a cup of dried powder milk in a small cloth bag and keep it just beneath the packets of dried seeds. Do not forget to put a label with date, variety and other important information. The seeds can be kept in a cool, dark and completely dry place.