By Jannie Vaught
“The beauty of seed is rivaled only by their purpose.” Seed Savers Exchange.
Definitions that will clear up the usage of these terms. Sustainable: able to maintain at a certain rate or level. Renewable: not depleted when used. These are just two of the many descriptive words now used when someone is describing their “Natural ” lifestyle choice. I find this overuse, especially of sustainable merely a fashionable throw out there word to express your home, lifestyle, gardening style or even how one eats and shops. We are heavily marketed with feelgood catchwords in every part of our lives. But if you read the definition and apply to the basics of all life you will see that soil and seed are the real practice of living sustainably and with renewable resources.
This is work and practiced skill. For this gardener, it is the preparation of soil for the next season and the arrival of the seed. Let’s look at a few of our favorite seeds we love to grow and they are considered ” Wet or fleshy fruited crops”. Tomatoes, cucumber, melons, peppers, squash, tomatillo, eggplant to name a few, need to fully ripen on the vine to the point of falling off and the cucumber or squash has turned yellow and big. Only melons are ready at market harvest. Harvest when overripe and split open and scrape out the seeds and jelly, soak in water and then scrub off the squishy jell, “my words” I run water over them in a wire strainer and use my fingers to push the seeds gently against the wire screen. Dry on a nonstick material, I use old pie tins that I write on with a Sharpe so I know the variety of the seed and the date, I set them out where they get airflow and no direct sun. Tomatoes need a fermenting stage for a few days. Place seeds in a cup of water and they will ferment and bubble a little wash in a fine sieve, they have an anti sprouting gel on the seed and this process helps them to sprout when your starting seeds, also a little soaking time before going into the soil get them ready to sprout. As any watermelon lover can tell you children are great for distributing watermelon seeds simply by eating and spitting out the seeds, and they will come up everywhere! Dry seeds: corn, grain, dill, artichoke, flowers, herbs are collected when fully ripe and beginning to dry in the vine or bush, a fine mesh bag can be placed over the seeds to catch and keep the birds from eating them all such as what happens with sunflowers. I do leave some for the birds to eat as they are my helpers in the gardens many will eat bugs also.
Always use the “Best biggest seeds”, when I am packaging and I have small questionable seeds I place them in my bag of cover crop mix to give all seeds a chance at fulfilling their life cycle. A lost wandering cantaloupe may be found later in the season with a few melons for the table. Decide if your saving for yourself or maybe to share with other gardeners in your area. Mark the packages with the date and location grown, what variety they are and where you got them so the history of the plant is passed along also. Seed saving is an act of seeing the future. I hope all your saved seeds bring you a sustainable, renewable garden.
Growing Green With Jannie