Starting this year’s ecogreenlove garden and how to store seeds

So March arrived, and with it the excitement of starting sowing once again. Last year was my very first year to (seriously) grow something, and in the autumn of 2013 we harvested a good bunch of bell peppers, red chillies, lettuce and cocktail tomatoes. This time, ecogreenlove is going for more! Trying other seeds, seeds from sachets that we’ve bought but also trying to sow from last year’s harvest… we’ll see how it all goes.

Also, this year we started Bokashi composting, which means, we don’t need to buy fertilizer, we are practically making our own soil directly from our kitchen, 100% organic (and the big advantage is that I can be sure it is 100% organic, not only because the label says so). Another difference is that we are planting more and different vegetables rather than flowers.

And something I learned is that you really have to be organized when sowing. So many times I tried to plant something and never grew or eventually died, so we’re giving the seeds a better look and care this time, and I’m creating a timetable of when we’re planting what, when is sprouting and when we’ll be transplanting, as well as ideal conditions (temperature, soil, etc)

I even draw a very basic graphic to know which seeds are in which egg cartons, because as you can see, we planted most of them reusing egg cartons. So here is an example:

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove

So far, we only have 50 seeds growing because of our small space, we do not have a garden, what we are doing is planting in our balconies, so everything has to be very well distributed having each the space they need. So there will be an update for this post when we manage to sow the rest of our vegetables and herbs. The weather here in southwest Germany is still fresh and rainy, so we are starting the seeds indoors. Now, since we didn’t plant aaaaall the seeds, I want to save some for next year (from harvest and from sachets), I did some research and here are some tips if you are also planning to do that:

Tips for Storing Seeds | When to Collect, How to Collect | Make a Seed Organizer

Beginner’s Guide to Seed Saving

Found on Organic Gardening

The seeds of tomatoes, peppers, melons, and winter squash are ready for saving when the fruits are ripe and ready to eat.

Peppers
Peppers are the easiest. The seeds are mature after the peppers have changed color, indicating final ripeness. Cut the peppers open, scrape out the seeds onto a plate—reserving the flesh for eating—and let the seeds dry in a nonhumid, shaded place, testing them occasionally until they break rather than bend. What could be simpler?

(Note: Dry all wet seeds on a glass or ceramic plate. Spread the seeds evenly over the surface of the plate and stir twice daily to ensure even drying and to keep them from clumping together. Don’t dry seeds on paper plates or paper towels—they’ll stick like glue. A food dehydrator set at 85ºF works well, but don’t dry them in a warm oven or any place the temperature exceeds 95ºF.)

Tomatoes
Saving tomato seeds takes a little more time, but it’s just as easy. Harvest ripe tomatoes from several different vines of the same variety, cut each across the middle, and gently squeeze the juice and seeds into a bowl. You’ll see that each tomato seed is encased in a gelatinous coating. (This prevents the seed from sprouting inside the tomato). Remove this coating by fermenting it. This mimics the natural rotting of the fruit and has the added bonus of killing any seedborne tomato diseases that might affect next year’s crop.

To ferment the seeds, add about half as much water as there are tomato seeds and juice in the bowl and stir the mixture twice a day for about 3 days. Keep a close eye on the mixture—especially if it’s a warm area, as fermentation happens more quickly at high temperatures. As the mixture ferments, its surface will become covered with white or gray mold. Don’t keep the bowl in the kitchen, anywhere it can be tipped over by animals or children, or where you’d be able to smell it—it will get pretty rank.

When bubbles begin to rise to the top of the mass, or when a thick coat of mold has formed, stop the fermentation by adding enough water to double the mixture, and stir vigorously. The clean, good seeds will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Gently pour off mold, debris and any seeds that float (they’re hollow). Add more water and repeat the process until only clean seeds remain.

Capture the seeds to be saved by pouring the liquid through a strainer, wipe the strainer bottom with a towel to remove as much moisture as possible, then dump the seeds onto a glass or ceramic plate to dry. Stir twice a day to ensure even drying and to prevent the seeds from clumping together. Warning: Tomato seeds will germinate unless you dry them quickly. To speed drying, you can use a fan, but don’t put the seeds in sunlight or an oven.

Melons and Squash
Muskmelons, watermelons, and winter squash? Super easy. Cut muskmelons open, scoop the seeds into a strainer, rinse, and set out to dry. Watermelons are almost as easy. Put the seeds in a strainer and add a dash of dishwashing liquid to remove any sugar left on the seeds. Rinse and dry.

Winter squashes need to be carefully cut to expose the seed cavity. Don’t cut straight through the center of the squash—you’ll cut through some seeds, too. Just stick the knife in as far as necessary to cut through the flesh and move it around the circumference. (Be careful—some squashes will fight back!) Pull the seeds from the fibers, rinse, and dry. And don’t cut a squash before you’re ready to eat it—seeds can be saved from most winter squashes many months after harvest (although a few of the long-storage varieties may have sprouted seeds inside after 6 months or so).

Seeds That Need More Time

Eggplants
To save the seeds of your eggplants, you’ll need to wait until the fruits are far past the stage when you’d pick them for eating. Any seeds saved from table-ready eggplants will be immature and won’t be viable. If left on the plant, purple eggplant varieties will ripen to a dull brownish color, green varieties to a yellowish green, and white varieties to golden. Eggplants ready for seed saving will be dull, off-colored, hard, and sometimes shriveled.

Cut the ripe eggplants in half and pull the flesh away from the seeded areas. If you want to save more than a few seeds, use a food processor or blender to mash the flesh and expose the seeds. Process (without peeling), and put the pulp in a bowl. Add water, let the good seeds settle, and then pour off the water and debris. Repeat until only clean seeds remain. Add a bit more water and pour the mix through a strainer with a mesh fine enough to catch the tiny seeds. Dry the bottom of the strainer with a towel to absorb excess moisture and dump the seeds out onto a plate to dry.

Cucumbers
After cucumbers ripen, they change color and become soft. (Remember, if you stop picking cucumbers, their vines will stop producing new fruit, so pick your fruit for seed saving toward the end of the season.)

Cut the ripe cucumber in half and scrape the seeds into a bowl. To remove the seeds’ coating, rub them gently around the inside of a sieve while washing them or soak them in water for 2 days. Rinse and dry. (Note: Make sure the cucumbers you use for seed are disease-free; some diseases can be carried on seed and could affect your future crop.)

Summer Squash
You’ll need to let summer squashes ripen past the tender stage, too. When you can’t dent the squash with a fingernail, the fruit is at the right stage for seed saving. Pick it, cut it open, scrape the seeds into a bowl, wash, drain, and dry.

Top 10 Tips for Storing Seeds

Found on Organic Gardening

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove

1. Think dry and cool no matter where you store seed. Humidity and warmth shorten a seed’s shelf life.

2. Keep seed packets in plastic food storage bags, plastic film canisters, Mason jars with tight-fitting lids, or glass canisters with gasketed lids.

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove

3. The refrigerator is generally the best place to store seeds.
4. Keep your seed-storage containers well away from the freezer section of your refrigerator.

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove5. To keep seeds dry, wrap 2 heaping tablespoons of powdered milk in 4 layers of facial tissue, then put the milk packet inside the storage container with the seed packets. Or add a packet of silica gel. Replace every 6 months.

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove

6.Store each year’s seeds together and date them. Because most seeds last about 3 years, you’ll know at a glance which container of seeds might be past its prime when planting season comes.
7.When you’re ready to plant, remove seed containers from the refrigerator and keep them closed until the seeds warm to room temperature. Otherwise, moisture in the air will condense on the seeds, causing them to clump together.
Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove8.If you’re gathering and saving seeds from your own plants, spread the seeds on newspaper and let them air dry for about a week. Write seed names on the newspaper so there’s no mix-up. Pack the air-dried seeds in small paper packets or envelopes, and label with plant name, date, and other pertinent information. Remember, if you want to save your own seeds, you’ll need to plant open-pollinated varieties. They’ll come back true; hybrids won’t.

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove

9.Or dry saved seeds on paper towels. They’ll stick to the towels when dry, so roll them up right in the towel to store them. When you’re ready to plant, just tear off bits of the towel, one seed at a time, and plant seed and towel right in the soil.
10.Even if you’re organized, methodical, and careful about storing seeds, accept the fact that some seeds just won’t germinate the following year. Home gardeners will find that stored sweet corn and parsnip seeds, in particular, have low germination rates, and other seeds will only remain viable for a year or two.

Seed Saving Techniques: When To Collect, How To Collect

Found on Mother Earth News

For fleshy vegetables such as tomatoes, squash and melons, pick them when they are fully ripe. Scoop out their seeds and spread them to dry in a well-ventilated place. Beans and peas need to be left on the vine until the pods are dry and crackly. Corn should also be left to dry on the stalk until the kernels dent. Other types of seed may be gathered when the fruit or vegetables are fully formed, hard and “meaty.” Remember to collect seeds only from the most vigorous plants in you garden, and not just from the first few ripe specimens you happen to encounter. By selecting seeds from just the healthiest plants, you will – over time – select for and create a special sub-variety of these crops that are especially adapted to your backyard’s climate and soil.

Seed Storage

Also remember to label and store your free bonanza as soon as possible after harvesting. You may think you’ll be able to recall the name of each kin of seed, but believe me — it’s easy to get confused. Some (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds) resemble one another quite closely.

Envelopes make good containers for storing small quantities of most kinds of seed since they can be sealed and labeled conveniently. For larger quantities, I use glass jars (they take up more space than envelopes and are breakable, but you can see inside them).

I label my seed containers with the following: Each kind of vegetable, variety of vegetable, where and when I originally bought the seed, and the month and year of the harvest.

Example: Bush snap beans — Blue-Lake Park (1970) — August 1976.

The Key To Successful Seed Storage

The key to successful long-term seed storage is keeping your cache cool and dry. If you store your seeds where the air is moist, they may sprout and/or become mildewed (Tip: You may want to put a small amount of powdered milk into each storage container to act as a desiccant). Mold growth occurs at a faster rate in warm air than it does in cool air.

Potato and onion sets may be stored in open boxes or hung in mesh bags in a place where the temperature is 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the air is not overly dry. We store ours in a frost-free fruit cellar along with our canned goods and winter squash (my neighbor, on the other hand, has had good luck squirreling away his eatin’ spuds and seeds in a 4-foot-deep pit dug in a sandy, well-drained spot. When he unearths them in early May, the potatoes and seeds look just like they did the previous September, without a single sprout!).

Seed Longevity: How Long Will Your Seeds Keep?

Some seeds keep much longer than others. The following chart will give you an idea as to the minimum length of time properly stored seeds will remain viable.

TYPE OF SEED             USEFUL LIFE (YEARS)

Asparagus 4
Beans, string 2
Broccoli 3
Cabbage 3
Carrots 4
Cucumber 5
Lettuce 5
Onion 2
Pea 2
Pumpkin 6
Radish 3
Spinach 5
Squash 4
Tomato 3
Turnip 3

Seed Longevity does fluxuate. Some of the above seeds may — depending on the particular variety and the storage conditions — remain usable for up to 10 years.

Germination Testing: Are My Seeds Still Alive?

Years ago, I helped carry out germination tests for a large store that bought seed in bulk and repacked it in small packets for resale. Since the manager carried his unsold stock over from year to year, it was important for us to know how many seeds in a particular batch would sprout when planted.

To test how many would sprout, first, we placed moistened cotton in a petri dish. Then we did the following:

  1. place exactly 100 seeds on top of the damp cotton,
  2. cover the dish,
  3. leave the dish it at room temperature for a week or a few days
  4. count the number of seeds that have begun to grow (if 90 out of 100 seeds have sprouted, the germination rate is 90 percent: This is considered a good rate).

I do essentially the same germination tests with my seeds now, except that I only use ten seeds per germination test, and I only test seeds that are more than a year old (if the seeds are less than two years old and look good, I assume that their germination rate will be high).

Any plastic or glass container that will hold a damp blotter, damp newspaper, or moistened cotton (along with the seeds) will work as well as a petri plate. Just remember to label your containers with the date of the test and the variety of seed being tested. Then – after a week or so – check on your sprouts. If eight out of 10 seeds in any given test sprout, you can assume the germination rate to be 80 percent (which is, of course, plenty good).

Make a Seed Organizer to store your Seed Collection

Gardening tips: How to Save & Store Seeds | ecogreenlove
Found on Mr Brown Thumb

To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow!

Look deep into Nature, you'll understand Everything! | ecogreenlove

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ecogreenlove is a completely free website that offers information, tips and guide to live a more sustainable life. We are two persons doing everything: from research, design, P.R. to posting on social networks.

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