Seed Saving Is A Practice As Old As Humankind

By Jannie Vaugh

George Washington supposedly thought it was “disreputable” for farmers to buy seeds every year. If you want to save seeds from one year to the next, you need to grow open-pollinated varieties (not hybrids) and know if a plant is self-pollinated or wind or insect-pollinated. If it is self-pollinating, seeds are easy to save, and the plants next year will look like the parent plant. If it is wind or insect pollinated, they may cross pollinate, which means next years plants will be a surprise.

You can hand pollinate with a brush or Q-tip swab and then cover the flower with a bag so the plant remains true to type. Or as a corn developer always tells me “Sometimes you need to get out of the way and let Nature Dance”. Here are some examples of Self-pollinated plants: beans, eggplant, lettuce, peas, peppers, tomatoes. Wind and insect-pollinated plants: corn, cole crops(broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) cucumbers, melons, okra, root crops (turnips, onions, carrots, radish, beets) Squash (summer and winter). Also, read the packages if you are purchasing seeds the bags are your information. Research is for this gardener a fascinating adventure.

We will look at pollinating fruit and nut trees next week. Let’s take a look at determinate and indeterminate plants. Definition: determinate varieties (including bush varieties) reach a certain plant height and then stop growing. Indeterminate varieties continue to grow. For example, tomatoes can grow 5 ft tall or larger and continue to produce tomatoes along the stem throughout the growing season. You can research your tomato varieties to find out. Potatoes are also determinate or indeterminate. The determinant variety will grow in a line under the soil and only make one line of potatoes. The determinant varieties will grow up when the green leaves begin to break the soil that’s when the gardener will “Hill” or pile up soil along the row and leave a little green this can happen many times to the point that the “Hill” can be several feet high.

The potatoes are growing up the vine as the soil is added. Here are some varieties. Determinant: Caribe, Norland Russett, Norkotah, Red Norland, Ratte potatoes, Chieftain, Yukon gold, Sierra rose, Sierra gold, Gold rush, Adirondack blue, and red. Indeterminate: Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Alturas, Century russet, Russet nugget, German butterball, Strawberry paw, Green mountain, Canela Russet, Bintje, Red Pontiac, Maris piper, Lehigh, Red Maria, Butte, Elba, Red Cloud, Katahdin, Desiree. Have a look at the website

And as we tend this fantastic fall garden we are always seed saving and looking two seasons ahead.

Growing Green with Jannie