Monday, 30 January 2012

Gone to seed...

I'm terribly confused.


A good percentage of the overseas blogs (in US of A) I follow are all talking about going through, and ordering from, seed catalogues.


Now, I've been growing vegetables seriously for the past 3 - 4 years, and the only seeds I ordered last year were my first ever planting of broad (fava) beans, heirloom tomato seeds and the Franchi Sementi purple and yellow beans.  And the year before that I ordered the Franchi Sementi yellow, orange and white carrots.


I only ordered those seeds because each year I have let a couple of each of the plants in my vegetable patch go to seed, and, when they were ready to be harvested, I've dried them out thoroughly and stored them for use the next year.


I am, I reckon, an OCD seed saver.  Not just lemon pips either - my seed collecting fetish has now also grown to encompass apple and naartjie (mandarin) pips too.


All other kinds of seeds from vegetables which I have grown in my garden get gathered together and put away until the next season.  I can't fathom why anyone would allow a plant to go to seed, rip out the now dead plant with seeds unharvested, and then chuck it in their compost heap.


I cooked butternut in the solar oven today, and these are the seeds that one gourd gave me...
Butternut seeds
... more than I could ever use.  But it'll get added to the storage container labelled "butternut" LOL


Due to our three week farm break in December/January, one of my beetroot plants went to seed...
Beeroot seeding
... and, what I thought was a giant garlic seed head turned out to be an onion...
... but that's fine, 'cos we go through a lot of onions :)


A couple of parsnips are providing me with their off-spring...
A parsnip plant providing me with seeds for this winter
... and I've never bought a seed potato in my life...
Potatoes sprouting at the eyes
RMan is assured of his most favourite veg...
Pea seeds - still in their protective pod :)
I think, though, that my favourite seeding plant has got to be the carrot.  I allowed some of the yellow, white and orange carrots to go to seed.  The flower starts out all round and snowball-looking...
In front is the carrot flower-ball
and behind you can see the
flattening process taking shape
... and gradually becomes less puffy and flatter and flatter...
... until that perfectly shaped flower head has flattened out completely.  So flat that I can imagine butterflies use it as a dancing surface when no-one is looking.
All they need to do now is dry out and I'll
harvest them
Did you know that the original colour of carrots was purple?  The myth states that orange carrot was apparently grown Holland in the 16th Century to honour William of Orange.  But the ((orange) carrot was adopted as the royal vegetable in honour of the House of Orange :)


I have also harvested home grown aubergine, radish, corn, black pearl chilli, peas, beans, rocket, lettuce seeds.  All my tomato plants this year, except for the heirloom, have grown from seed I saved from last year.  And those tomato seeds originally came from shop bought organic tomatoes - thanks Woolies :)


Growing pumpkin, gem squash, zucchini and butternut from seed has thus far eluded me, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up.  I never give up... :)  The farm awaits you...  (Actually, I have no idea how my pumpkin plants on the farm are doing - they are under irrigation, and the plants have acres to spread out LOL, so maybe...)


But, back to my original question - why does everyone overseas seem to purchase new seed every year?  Are your seeds treated that their seeds aren't viable?  Is your cold weather the reason that you don't have the time to allow your seeds to dry out in order to store them?


Or are you not permitted (by Montsano) to preserve your own seeds?  Not that I'm trying to talk you into breaking the law, but it's far cheaper growing your vegetables from your own seeds LOL


How can there be a law against providing your own seed...?  If there is, then I reckon that's a crock.

27 comments:

  1. As I recall my father explaining to me once upon a time, we topped up collected seeds every year for genetic diversity. After enough seasons of having all of a vegetable crop descend from a few individuals....there was a risk that the quality would decrease over time. There is no law against preserving seeds, and if you start off with heirlooms and are careful about selecting really good individuals to save as seed stock, then you're probably fine, but diversifying a bit is always good! Particularly if you're trying to improve a variety. It can really prevent problems that you'd only encounter a couple years down the line.

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    1. Caitlin - Welcome :) Okay - good to know - thanks :) Actually, I am trying to ensure that all my seeds are eventually Heirlooms

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  2. I order seeds every year because I love to try many different varieties of things.
    My favorite carrot--Mokum--is a hybrid, which would NEVER come true from seed. A lot of my favorite vegetables are hybrids, which means you have to buy seed for them, or simply not grow them. Life is too short to eat varieties you don't care for.

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    1. Sue - We don't have Mokum here ;) LOL "Life is too short..."

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  3. Great post, Dani and I love the carrot flower pics! Nice to know what they look like.

    This is the start of my third year of veggie gardening. I STILL consider myself a "newbie" gardener and I buy seeds simply because I'm still looking for that "jack pot" moment when a veggie tells me it likes my growing conditions and my belly tells me that this is a "keeper."

    My first year I bought seeds from the local big box store. Big mistake! I had a lousey harvest and didn't understand the whole GMO thing. Last year I shopped 2 different seed suppliers and had a MUCH better result harvest wise.

    There was really only one tomato that we loved...Baker Creek German Red Strawberry, which is not even offered in their catalog this year. I still have seeds from the packet to grow a few more plants and have made a mental note to save seeds from the actual fruit this year.

    So for me it's still a discovery process. I'm still looking for what works, what doesn't, and what tastes good. I did save a big bag of marigold seeds last year, though.

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    1. Tami - We also started our veggie path together it seems...

      You're exactly right - if something grows, and grows well - save the seed. Those that don't make it - ditch them :)

      Have to say that I'm loving my heirloom tomatoes - and they're producing masses and masses of fruit!

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  4. we have such a short growing season here in Canada that it is difficult to let things go to see, not impossible, just difficult. We can't put things in the ground until the last of the frost which is the end of May and quite often we have frost by the end of September.

    Gill in Southern Ontario, Canada

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    1. Gill - That must be difficult - don't know if I could handle that LOL No wonder you all start your seeds off under heat and lights :)

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  5. I think that Tami is right. It is the GMO thing. I won't use the M word. The only way to save seeds, is to buy from some Haritage catalogs and make sure you are getting reprodueable plants. But, once you get them, we should take your advice and save seeds. The benifit of saving seeds from your best plants is that they continue to adapt to your area, and get better year after year. Thanks for the great reminder.

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    1. Lou - LOL - I used the word for you :) Reckon you have a point there, too. I like the thought of seeds being happy enough to grow, thrive and therefore adapt to the conditions I'm growing them in :)

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  6. I do save some seeds from the garden. But I have had trouble, especially with my peppers for some reason cross-pollinating and not breeding true to what I thought they were supposed to be. Last year, I planted from saved seeds. What was supposed to be a yellow bell pepper ended up being two quite different plants. One a bell and one a quite spicy (but tasty) chili shaped one. I do save tomato seeds as well but being still fairly new to this place (three years) I'm still trying to find the varieties that work best here. Some of my tried and true ones that did well for years at my old garden don't do well here, even though they're only 15 miles apart.
    For vining crops, pumpkins, squash, gourds etc. I find that they cross pollinate much to easily to safely save seeds- unless you only plant one variety a year. And, being surrounded by commercial farming operations, I could NEVER save corn (maize).
    But usually my seed purchases are my 'something new' for the year. I always aim to try at least two new things every year and see if I like them. Of the seeds I ordered this year, only three are 'replacements' and the rest are all 'new to me' varieties.
    Judy

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    1. Judy - Sounds like your capsicum got mixed LOL I don't mind if something other than what I planted grows - for instance in the new farm veggie patch I planted what I thought were radishes - for RMan. Turns out they're beetroot. Any veg is welcome :)

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  7. Dani, it's because we can't help ourselves!!!! I think too, that seed saving simply isn't in fashion. The majority of the seed sold here has hybrid, so folks have expected to buy seed every year. I think Tami gives an excellent explanation of the awakening most of us have gone through or are undergoing. It's an interesting discussion, and I think we're rapidly becoming OCD seed savers too. :)

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    1. Leigh - I reckon that is why it is vitally important that one supports heirloom seed suppliers :)

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  8. Good job on saving so many of your own seeds. I think it's important for a gardener (or any person) to at least experience the process of doing so. I also think, perhaps, that many people simply have too small of a garden to devote a lot of space towards seed saving and a short growing season in many areas also makes this difficult...but not impossible.:)

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    1. Mr H - Thank you. My town garden *(where I'm currently saving seed) is 9 X 5 mtr and produces enough for me to preserve for the winter months, as well as allow a few plants to go to seed. But, that said, I'm very lucky as I do have a long growing season LOL Peppers and aubergines from last year are still growing, and producing fruit :)

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  9. I also save all my seeds, but I know many people will cut down a plant before it bolts to make way for another planting. So they dont have the time to let the plant go to seed. And I know that hobby gardeners like to have variety and try new types of seeds every year. Plus there are some really great seed companies out there that fight the GMO companies and we really have to support them to stay in business or there will not be a choice in the future.

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    1. Jane - Banish the thought - you have to have choice...! :)

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  10. I'm with you! Seed saving is fantastic. I'm even trying to grow date palms from the seeds left over from the delicious dates we ate. I might be punching above my weight there, but we'll see...

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    1. EB - Would love to see if they are viable...

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    2. Nothing yet Dani, but I'll let you know. I believe patience is a gardener's virtue but I'm still trying to sprout that too. Sandy

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  11. I save seeds where possible, but because of short growing season many will not reach the mature stage for seed saving. Another problem, I do not have a large garden so many of my plants cross pollinate resulting in a different plant the following year. I would love not having to buy seeds, but that's not possible where I live.

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    1. Norma Chang - Welcome :) I think I too would have a h-u-g-e problem if I had a short growing season. Hats off to those who are successful under those conditions!

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  12. Thanks for this post! I, too, save seeds whenever possible. This is only our third year of really trying to grow a good amount of veggies and we have saved more and more seeds each year, both from organic/non-GMO veggies grown in our yard as well as from organic (some heirloom) veggies purchased from the Farmer's Market or gotten through our CSA. My goal is to eventually be able to grow each years veggies only from saved seeds, however, our short growing season here has proven a bit difficult for doing that. I am determined to keep trying though! The majority of this years crops will be grown from saved seed, and the few seeds I do need to purchase will be purchased locally :-) OH! Can't forget seed exchanges! I've received several seeds through exchanges with other growers! These are especially exciting ;-)

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    1. Bee Girl - Well done! :) Seed exchanges doesn't seem to have taken off in this country. However, I have just swapped some Black Pearl Chilli seeds for some sunflower seed. Can't wait for spring so that I can plant them with my corn :)

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  13. I have been saving seeds from the organic veggies that I buy and I hope to start some this weekend to see what takes off. Say yes to free seeds!

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    1. Katie - Yay, another like minded seed saver :)

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