Saving Summers Seeds (say that three times fast!)

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Remember my tutorial, back in June, about allowing some of your garden fruits and veggies to go to seed and how to harvest and save them for replanting?

If enjoy gardening, you’ll take twice as much pride and twice as much pleasure in planting seeds that you’ve saved from your own garden.   Propagating your own garden from your own seeds means you have basically a free garden, assuming you use your own compost for fertilizer. That’s my goal… add one or two new crops to the mix each year, but re-grow my old faves from the previous year’s seed.

So I thought I’d show you some of the seeds as I dried them out recently. They are all now tucked away in their own little envelopes, all the envelopes stored in an airtight container in a dark drawer, ready for next summer.

All, except for the popcorn, which we’ve been enjoying so much we’ve gone halfway through already!

 

 

 

Lettuce that bolted… pick them when the seed heads turn fluffy and are about to drop!

 

I plucked off the lettuce seed heads and let them dry for two weeks in a cupcake pan in my pantry, then once dry, rubbed the seeds out with my fingers and put into an envelope to store for next season…

 

 

Cucumber seeds drying on a paper towel… ready to store for next summer’s garden.

 

 

Onion seeds, dried on the stalk out in my garden in the summer sun.  All I did was bring the bolted seed heads inside and tease out the seeds, then store in an envelope!

 

 

Strawberry popcorn ears, drying on a baking sheet.  I let them dry for two weeks in my pantry, then shucked them and keep them ready for use in a glass jar!  I kept a few dozen dried seeds aside in an envelope for next summer’s garden.

 

 

Strawberry popcorn ears look exactly like… well… strawberries!


So what’s next?

My fall garden, of course. My favorite winter hardy veggies to plant right now and enjoy all winter long are lettuce (I’m always throwing new lettuce seeds down as we eat up the lettuce patch in our garden… they grow more slowly in winter, but in our area of SC, lettuce will plant and grow year round…) broccoli, spinach, carrots, and garlic.   The garlic won’t be ready until spring, but the spinach, carrots, lettuce and broccoli will keep us happy and fed with fresh veggies all winter long.

Every zone in the US can handle a winter garden… my favorite resource to see what to plant in your area this fall is the book The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman.

 

 

My fall lettuce is already growing… with rows of newspaper in between each row of lettuce to keep moisture in and weeds to a minimum…

 

 

My latest idea to keep weeds down in the garlic bed?  Punch holes out of a cardboard box and lay in the garden bed.  Push one clove of garlic through each hole, and then leave until next spring!  So far, it’s working well, I have lots of little garlic plants popping up through the holes…

 

 

… and this is what the rest of my garden looks like, tucked away and asleep for next spring.  I just recycled old boxes by breaking them down and throwing them over unused garden spaces, to keep weeds from overtaking the beds until I need them in the spring.

 

Enjoy the cooler temps outside by starting your fall garden… and get the benefits of earthing in as well.

If you are nervous about trying a fall garden, do what I did my first year.  Just take all of the leftover seeds you have from last year… mix them all in a bowl, and sprinkle over your garden bed.  Just see what grows!  Have fun with it!  If you get nothing, no loss. If you get a few salads out of it, all the better!

You may be surprised to find a few carrots in the soil or a head of lettuce or broccoli to enjoy… and next year you’ll know what seeds to plant and put your energy into. My first year of gardening, I just sprinkled out all of my random seeds and was shocked at how much lettuce and carrots I had… also shocked at how sweet and luscious the carrots got sitting under the cold, frosted soil all winter long. They were delicious and it was plenty to convince me to put real effort into my winter garden the following year.

Good luck if you give it a go! xoxo, Laura