Saving Seed

I never set out to save seed when I began gardening. It didn’t even cross my mind until a couple of years ago when I let the green beans go after growing weary of the constant picking. I let the bean pods dry on the plant and saved the bean seeds for the next year. Imagine my surprise when I planted them the next spring and they actually grew. Who knew?

One year I planted pumpkins specifically labelled as “pumpkin pie” pumpkins. They grew well, but the cooked pulp was quite stringy and the color was a dull orange. I probably would have been none the wiser except a friend gave us pie pumpkins and the cooked pumpkins had a superior texture and color. So I saved the seed from the nicer pumpkins, knowing it would be difficult to find the same variety at the store.

Similarly, I bought a packet of popping corn seeds a couple of years ago at a Pride of Dakota show from a local seller. Popping corn is not available in at any of the stores I usually buy seeds, so, again, I saved the seed so I could grow popping corn all the years of my life.

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Black popping corn. Just beautiful! I pulled seed from the biggest, nicest cob. Very excited to see if that makes a difference in next year’s crop.

And so my seed collection has grown, year by year.

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Clockwise from top: Bush cucumber, black popping corn, pea, pinto beans, green beans, dill. Center: pumpkin.

This year I did something really smart and intentionally saved seed. I saved green bean seed and popping corn seed, and added some new ones: pea, cucumber, dill, and pinto bean seed. (I also tried to save zucchini seed, but I didn’t dry the seed well enough and it molded when I packed it up. Lesson learned there.)

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Pinto beans, a new addition to my garden this year. Easy to grow, low maintenance. Saved quite a bit of seed for next year for a larger crop.

I think back to one year when I grew about a million beautiful, large Roma tomatoes. I haven’t been able to grow anything near the same quality since then and I wish dearly that I had thought to save the seed from those tomatoes. If ever I grow a tomato as beautiful as those Romas from years ago, I will definitely be saving the seed. Until then, we try, try again.

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Peas. Vigorously produced pods with 6-10 peas, grew a lot taller than expected, so I’ll plan more upward growing space next year.

I’ll probably still slip in new varieties of vegetables from time to time, to make sure what I’ve saved is still the best variety. Half the fun of gardening is trying new things, and now that includes saving new seed varieties!

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