Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saved Seed Processing

A grey Chicago day, but I bounded out of bed and over to a pile of stuff I'd retrieved from the roof Sunday.

I ordered a boatload of seeds over the weekend (is there any potential greater than the gardener's imagination in January?) and promised myself as I loaded up on new varieties that I'd tend to all the seed we'd collected during 2010.

New this year: Joker Lettuce

On the way to the roof I checked the greens growing on our chilly second floor...under shop lights and the sun from southern-exposure windows.

The seeds for these greens were started by Bruce in Feb 2010, growing into young plant starts that flourished in the early spring cool and feeding us richly until they went to seed during the summer. We let the seed heads dry, clipped the plants, and stuffed them into paper bags to dry further.

Got these seeded late in Fall 2010
and they're finally delivering some lovely food
Then it was up the spiral stairway to the roof.

I hope the bees are cozy. 

A greenhouse full of buckets reminded me we'd really pushed on SIP emptying this fall--all SIPs are empty, all potting medium dried in the October sun and stored, ready for spring.

I gathered the seed tins and paper bags 
holding harvested seed heads to bring downstairs.

Unlike the consummately organized woman in Debbie's recent post, my seeds are a haphazard amalgam of envelopes, tins, and tiny tubs. Can I plead being busy cleaning out all those SIPs?

This is more my style. First, a happy pile, well marked at least, followed by "mustard and something else" harvested Sept 3. Still, points for twisting off dried seed heads and stuffing them into paper bags...five months ago.

Seed saving is easy but takes a little time at several stages--letting a plant go to seed and dry out, clipping the seed heads, and storing somewhere dry. Next, you clean to retrieve seed.

As I started to clean lettuce seeds, look who stopped by...

Good dog Carl in a crate 
we garbage-picked last summer.

After an energetic run around the place and plenty of kisses, Carl tries out his crate away from home, freeing up Bruce to organize the beans.

Readers of a certain age might recall cleaning seeds on album covers in the 70s. I learned my lesson well, using the same concept here on a big tray, tapping to vibrate the seeds southward and scraping back up the chaff.

Lettuce seeds 
(in there somewhere)

Hat-tip to organization:
beans in their tiny packs 

Over at Chiot's Run they've already started their onion seeds, using soil blocks. Debbie got a soil blocker she's offered to share...maybe we should try it too. 

Our Mill Creek Red Onion seeds from Bountiful Gardens should be coming through the mail slot any day now...


Debbie said...

H2, What's your germination rate for the lettuce seeds? Which seeds, from your experience do you have the most success?

H2 said...

Without question, the mustard seeds have the best germination rate. he tatsoi did well too. Lettuces I haven't saved before to replant, so we'll see when Bruce starts these.