Welcome to this week’s edition of Garden Life. I’m actually in high gear today because this weekend is the Lantern Fest — which is a petty big deal around here. But I couldn’t leave you guys hanging for Garden Life this week either.
Today, I thought I would talk a bit about preparing for your fall garden, and next year’s garden as well. One thing I really love doing is saving seeds. There is something so natural and somehow primitive about it. And I just love to wonder whether the seeds I save will actually breed true or not.
In the past couple years, I’ve learned to save lots of different kinds of seeds. I love to save tomato seeds although they can be a bit tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve also saved zucchini seeds, basil seeds and lots of pepper seeds.
Whenever you save seeds, try to do so from non-hybrid plants. Many of the hybrid seeds don’t grow well, or won’t produce at all. Unless you’re talking about bell pepper and chili seeds — and they seem to grow from just about anything. Also always select the largest, nicest “fruit” from the plant when you can. These seeds will generally produce better plants later on.
Most seeds will keep about 2 years in a cool, dark place. Or if you can allocate space for them in your freezer, they will keep almost indefinitely.
So let’s get to it…
How to save lettuce seeds
First off, your lettuce has to “bolt.” This usually happens easily and quickly in really warm weather…but basically you let your lettuce plant grow really tall and it will start to form a shoot in the middle of it that will get rather twiggy. This particular plant was a frilly Lollo Rosso lettuce plant, hence the purple color.
Once the plant has formed buds and bloomed (there will usually be tiny little flowers), the flowers will fall off and soon after you’ll start to see these whispy things that are quite a bit like on a dandelion. They have these puffy bits on them so they will be carried off by the wind to restart elsewhere. There is a chance that your lettuce will actually reseed itself in the same place (or close by). But obviously if it’s about to get cold or you want to save the seeds for later on, you’ll actually want to collect the seeds.
As you can see from this little seed dangling off the former blossom, they are very small. In fact, the seeds are about the size of a thyme seed. All you need to do when you harvest them is pull the white tufts from the seed pod and stick them in something. It may be that only some of the seeds are ready every few days. So you may need a little time to do the harvesting.
Some may just grab the whole plant and stick it in a bag, then shake the seeds around. I did actually try this, but found that I got a whole lot of debris that I didn’t want as well. So go with whatever method works best for you. Each plant will give you several hundred seeds — which is really great if you like to grow patches of baby greens.
I store my seeds in little envelopes I fold myself — which I will be adding a tutorial about in a later edition of Garden Life. Super simple to make and oh so practical! Mine are made of neon orange paper, hence the crazy color in the next photo — I tried to tone it done a bit for this shot since it was a bit like eye cancer in full orange. But I never end up losing them in the garden which I love. 😉
So there you have it. It’s a super simple process so you really have no excuse to not save some lettuce seed this year — unless you plants just don’t live that long. Just remember, if you lettuce starts to get bitter because it’s been growing too long (which often happens if you harvest the side leaves and let the core keep growing), you’re usually not too far off from getting the core to go to seed.
What are the seeds you always save or would like to try saving this year?
What to join in the garden fun and link to your own blog or images online?
Here’s how this works:
PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES, especially if you have never linked up before!
- You are free to join the Garden Life link up at any time. You can also skip a few weeks and then come back. It’s entirely up to you.
- Please link directly to a post about your garden, a recipe, a tutorial for gardening, an inspirational idea, etc that relates to GARDENING — not your main blog URL.
- Please only link to your own blog or photos hosted online.
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