We meet on the first Sunday of each month between 8.30am - 10.00am. Venue: 145 Ilkley Road, Ilkley, Sunshine Coast.
All welcome to come along for a chat, cuppa, local organic gardening tips, seed saving and plant swap! Gold coin donation.
If you have any seeds that need processing or you'd like to contribute to our community seed bank, bring them along.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Seed Saving Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

What should you consider before beginning to save seeds?

Find out what the plant's method of pollination is; whether it will be crossed with nearby plants; and when it is likely to bear seed.

Why shouldn't you save seed from hybrid plants?

Because hybrid plant seed won't reproduce 'true to type' or a plant that is identical to the parent plants.

How are plants pollinated?

Plant pollen can be air-borne, carried by insects or some plants can be self-pollinated. Some plant varieties need to be separated by a large distance or care must be taken to ensure that plants are not cross-pollinated (utilise alternate day covering or plant staggered). Plants that are from the same family group (or related to each other) can pollinate each other too.

How do you decide which plants to save seed from?
Most importantly, observe your plants while they are growing and label them so you can easily recognise which plant to save seed from when it is mature. Select disease-free plants that have the qualities you prefer such as: superior flavour; plant size; harvest time; slow to bolt to seed; high yield; abundant fruit; pest and disease resistant and early bearing.

How do I know when to save seeds?
To germinate, seeds must be mature such as when flowers or pods are faded, brown and dry. With fruiting bodies, generally when they are ripe or over ripe the seeds are ready to be collected.

What are some easy plants to start saving seeds from?
These include: beans, peas, tomatoes, lettuce and capsicum/chillies. Self-
pollinated crops are the easiest for a home gardener.

How do I get the seeds out?
For 'dry' seeds (e.g. beans and peas) - Leave flowers or pods on the plant until maturity. The drying process can be completed by spreading the seeds out in a ventilated, dry place. Remove any remaining chaff.

For seeds in fleshy fruit (e.g. cucumbers, melons, pumpkin, tomatoes etc) - Scoop out seed masses and mix in a bucket with warm water. Let the mixture sit and ferment for a few days, stirring daily. The fermentation kills viruses and separates the good seed from the bad (good at the bottom). Rinse and lay out to dry on a plate.

How do I store the seeds?
Stored seeds must be dry, free of chaff and insects. To destroy any stowaways, put the seeds in a freezer for a couple days. Store seeds in a jar or sealed envelope (preferably with dry rice or silica to remove moisture). Label and keep in a cool, dry place.

What information should I record?
Write down any observations about the seed you are saving (such as slow to bolt to seed; excellent sweet flavour) to help you remember why you saved those particular seeds. Record date of harvest, source of seed, planting season and variety traits.

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