by Texas Homesteader ~
I have to have a garden every year. It’s just in my blood. My hands must be in the dirt, coaxing that young tender plant. The payoff is of course that home-grown produce to nourish our bodies. Healthy produce picked right before supper. Produce that I’m able to preserve for colder months, and share with others around me with my weekly #BlessingBasket.
I try to only grow heirloom plants in my garden. One of the main reasons behind this is so that I can save the seed to plant each and every year. You see, saving hybrid seed might not be productive. That’s because hybrid seed may not come back true to the mother plant the next year. But heirloom seed will! You know exactly what you’re gonna get with heirloom seeds. Come see how I carefully put back that precious seed in anticipation of next year’s bounty.
Let’s take my heirloom green beans for example. Those seeds are super easy to put back. When I planted my row of heirloom green beans I noted what I planted in that row. I use a multi-year spreadsheet Planting Guide. As the season progresses I allow the last plant in the row to go unharvested. Those beans will mature & produce my heirloom seeds for next year’s garden.
Note About Cross Pollination
Cross-pollination can change your heirloom seeds to something less pure. So for instance heirloom bell peppers planted too closely to heirloom jalapeno peppers can change the resulting saved seed to a blend of the two varieties. If you’re saving seed from your garden you’ll want to keep this in mind. For more detailed information you can read this Texas A&M article on Cross Pollination.
Saving Seeds From My Garden
When the pods are dry I’ll bring them inside and remove the now-dried paper casing and drop all the bean seeds into a bowl. But when I’ve gathered up all I’ll need I must find a way to package them up for next year’s garden.
Creating An Envelope
Here’s what I do… I take a piece of 8×12 paper that’s been printed on one side. This paper will be repurposed into my seed envelopes!
I fold it in thirds long-wise with the blank side out, then in thirds again. This gives me the creases I need for my envelope.
Next I’ll write on the blank-side middle section the type and date of these seeds. Then I plop the dry seeds into the middle section, refolding the sections and placing a piece of tape to hold it all in place.
This seed packet is placed in my box of seeds. Next February I may organize my indoor greenhouse and these seeds may be planted in advance so I’ll have heirloom seedlings to go into the ground when the danger of the last frost has passed.
For squashes I do the same thing, allow one squash to go unharvested to make those precious seeds for me.
With pumpkins and cantaloupes I just harvest when they’re ripe and pull the seeds. A quick rinse and then I lay them on paper to dry. The seeds need to be totally dry before making the seed envelopes & storing them away.
With tomatoes I scoop out the seed section & place the gelatinous blob into a sieve. Then I run water through a sieve to wash away everything except the seeds themselves.
Finally I shake all the water from them and scatter them on newspaper to continue drying.
No matter what type of veggie I’m saving seeds from, I try to take the largest and best and save seeds from that plant.
Over time the seeds I save & replant become perfectly acclimated to our climate and my soil here on the homestead. Win/win!
But by saving my heirloom seeds, not only am I saving some cash and providing for myself. But I’m improving my harvest year after year. Plus there’s no unpleasant surprises – I know what to expect from my harvest year after year!
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Low-Cost Vegetable Gardening
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Using Cheap Biodegradable Weed Block
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How Vegetable Gardening Can Change Your Life!
- Easy Deep-Soak Watering
- Planting Potatoes In Galvanized Trough
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Making An Inexpensive Temporary Cold Frame
- Compost Old Confidential Documents
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