planning ahead

Now that the season is cooling down and the harvest is coming in,  it’s time to take stock as well as prepare for next year.   Part of the preparation for next season is seed collection both from my own plants as well as from friends and neighbours with particularly good vegetables. I usually let a few of my finest veggies grow big enough so that the seeds are mature.

The zucchini seeds will come from one of the mature 5 lb zucchinis that appear Monday morning in the garden, after you’ve taken a weekend to enjoy the summer and left your garden plot unattended.  I’ll scrape out the seeds and use the rest of the zucchini for a lasagna or zucchini bead.   I’ll then remove the seeds and let them dry  out on a plate.   Once dry, I’ll put them in a sealed container until the spring.

For the tomatoes, I let them mature on the vine until they’re very ripe.   Once they mature I’ll pick the tomato and scoop out the seeds in a mason jar so I have about 2 tablespoons of pulp and seeds.   You then have to wet process the seeds so that they will germinate next year.   To do this add 4 tablespoons of water to the seed mixture, shake, and let it sit for 2-4 days, or until a thin mold forms on the surface.   When this happens, remove the mold, add more water and shake.   The seeds that will sink to the bottom are good quality seeds, these should be well rinsed and then places on a plate to dry for a couple of days.  Shake the seeds around each day to ensure they are dry and do not stick together.   Once they are dry, place them in a small envelope, write variety and date and store in an cool, dark, airtight place until you are ready to plant in the spring.
For vegetables with seed pods, like beans, broccoli, and lettuce, keep some brown paper bags on hand so that you can put your seed pods into the paper bags to fully dry out.   For beans, let the seed pods dry our, ideally when they turn brown.  You want to be careful though because if the seed pod breaks open, the seeds will scatter everywhere.   To prevent this, collect the brown seed pods and place them in a brown paper bag to continue drying.   When dry, you can crack open the pod and then place the beans into an envelope to dry out .  Find a small envelope, label with the variety and date, and then store in an airtight container.