5 Crops to Get Started Saving Seeds
By Veralea Swayne, Educator & Garden Coordinator
Do you grow lettuce every spring and then get bummed when the plants start to bolt and the leaves get bitter?
Good news! There is more life left in that plant — you just need to imagine its use beyond your salad plate. Did you know that you can actually let it go, watch it make a flower stalk, and before you know it – it makes seeds! By the end of summer, you can have some seeds to save for next year, share with your gardening friends and yes, grow even more of that tasty lettuce.
The seed to be saved is obvious with fruiting crops like tomatoes and peppers, but how do you get seed from a leafy green? How long will it take? Do you need bees and pollinators to help in the seed saving process? Will it matter that a bee visited your acorn squash flowers and your neighbor’s pumpkin plant flowers?
To get you started, check out some quick tips and facts about five crops to get started with seed saving below.
To save your tomato seeds, grow your tomatoes as you normally would to eat but let some of them get plenty ripe. You’ll then have to ferment the seed to get rid of the gel that surrounds them, but then you can save the seeds for next year.
If you let your lettuce bolt, it will start to grow flowers during the summer months. The flowers will eventually dry and create seeds that you can pop right out of the fuzzy center. There’s next year’s salad supply!
How about growing some dry soup beans or some of those beautiful runner beans? You’ll need the entire summer for them to grow pods and then dry down. After that, you’ll find some gorgeous dry beans inside, both for eating and saving to plant again another year.
Bees sure do love those big yellow flowers on pumpkin plants! They are an important part of pollinating squash plants but you need to pay attention to what squash plants your neighbors might be growing in their gardens. Otherwise, you might end up with a new variety of squash.
This can be a fussy herb if you are expecting it to produce leafy vegetation into the summer. Know that it likes cool weather, so start some plants it in April and then let them flower and go to seed over the summer. They can dry in your garden and those little round balls on the umbrella stems are coriander — your seed for next year.