A Seed Saver's Garden 2021

heirloomgal

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Seed saving is an essential part of my garden and garden activities. For several years now I have been growing, on a bit of a focus rotation, a number of different vegetables, and flowers, to build a 'seed ark'. Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas have been the main crops, but I've also experimented with some unusual plants like morelle de balbis, Job's tears, spilanthes, sorghum, roselle, papalo, ashwaghanda, and cotton. I'm especially curious about unusually coloured vegetables, or those with unique growing habits, like velvet & variegated foliage tomatoes, purple potatoes or golden snow peas. However, I still hold a deep affection and appreciation for the 'old favourites' like Nantes carrots, Blue Lake beans or Bonnie Best tomatoes. New or old, I enjoy delicious and beautiful garden plants and vegetables.

In any summer, I'll choose a few different vegetables or flowers and try many different varieties. I'll grow anywhere from 10 to 100 different varieties of that crop to see the differences in their tastes, performance and productivity. Along with the 4 main seed saving crops I mentioned above, I've done trials of carrots, patty pan squash, pumpkins, zucchini, lettuce varieties, morning glories, basil, swiss chard, spinach, leeks, nigellas, watermelons, sunflowers, wild (er) type eggplants, kale, English sweet pea flowers, potatoes, poppies and beets.

This year I'm focusing mainly on beans for both fresh and dry use, but also peppers and peas.
We're only just beginning the season, but here are a few photos for 2021!

'Livingston's Pie Squash'
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'Amarillo Armadillo' Tomato (with eggshell fragments on top)
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'Blue Jade' dwarf corn
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'Red Emmalie', 'Amarosa', 'Purple Magic'and 'Peruvian Purple' potatoes
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'Alba Regia' bell pepper
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Black sesame seed plants
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'Bullnose' pepper
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'Petite Yellow' watermelon
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"Genovese' sweet basil
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heirloomgal

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Tomatoes are all in their pots, or in the ground. Cages went up this week. Trying a new watering angle, by sinking pots in ground close by.
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A garden nemesis. Not quite as bad as the lamb's quarters or horsetail, but these never cease to appear. It' my own fault too, as I planted them years ago having bought them as an 'edible green' at a Seedy Saturday.
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Stump of the World tomato doing great, with all the rain and heat. Must be over 2ft high already.
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One of the bean gardens
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Have been a bit stumped by what to do with my ever growing compost pile that is not breaking down very quickly; but this year it occurred to me to sink dozens of seed potatoes in there and use it as a potato growing pile. The unwanted potato eyes I threw in there a few years ago as compost wound up sprouting and growing a couple potato crops. It was never weeded or watered either. Hoping I can repeat that success purposefully this time.
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'Poona Kheera' cucumber doing very well, with the addition of a scoop of chicken manure.
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Here is the difference between bean transplants and the same variety put in ground as seed. They get quite a head start as transplants. We'll see how much this adds up to when it's time to collect seeds.
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A few cutworms have taken out some beans, about 4 as far as I can tell. I've found all the offenders and dispatched them. Disappointing to find this, but 4 out of the couple hundred planted isn't too bad.
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heirloomgal

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Magenta spreen is my vegetable nemesis. Planted it one year, and now I'm stuck with it! I'm not sure the family it belongs too, I think it was a kind of amaranth. If only had I known, plant once means to have it forever!

@digitS' I've pretty much steered clear of biennial vegetables, because I don't think I could successfully store them over the winter. (I would love to try carrots though.) They wouldn't make it in ground here either through winter. Also, the sheer size of those brassica plants is huge! I'd have to have more space I think to grow them with seed saving in mind. I'm not sure what the population requirements are for a good seed crop with the brassicas though.
 
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flowerbug

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my preferred way of storing extra organic materials is to dig a trench or hole and bury them. the only weeds which get put on the weed pile are those that have seeds or roots that may take longer than a sunny afternoon to dry out so i put them in the weed bucket to go back on the pile after removing as much of the leaves and dirt from the roots as i can. Mom will pull any weed and not do much to get the dirt off so her weed buckets are often heavy and full and she dumps them out on the weed pile. mine may contain just a few weeds and roots on the bottom and everything else is left in the garden to dry out in the sun. only the weedy/seedy annuals cause me problems and then the thistles which i surely do not want to regrow from any bits left so i put those in the bucket too. grasses i'm mostly keeping clear of many gardens so i don't have too many of those around any more. the sorels get seeds quickly enough i now remove those as soon as i can from pathways and gardens. others can go a longer time before they go to seed so i might leave them as a protective plant in place for the beneficial bugs to have some place to hide until the garden vegetables can get big enough to provide cover and habitat.

the soil under the largest weed pile out back is superb, but it being full of weed seeds means if i'm ever to use it i'd have to dig a hole about 2-3 feet deep to put it down there so that the weed seeds don't have any chance of being disturbed so they won't germinate. note, as of yet the weed pile is just filling in the low spot back where it is so i have no reason to harvest dirt from there, but it's an option for the future...

fall cleanup is when i bury what has been grown in the gardens and i do that out of habit instead of having to haul all that material around. yes, it does mean risks of some diseases, but as of yet the only crops i grow where disease is the biggest issue is the tomatoes and i have found that in our climate i can usually ignore it because of the variety we grow can usually survive the disease long enough to give a crop and then fades out. rotate crop plantings mean i won't normally use the same garden for tomatoes for several years time so they've usually given us a sufficient crop.

oh, i forgot to mention that i keep worm buckets for a small worm farm so in the times when i get some non-seedy grassy roots and want to keep that soil in circulation instead of putting it on the weed pile and i can't leave it out to dry on the surface i'll bring it in and put those in the worm buckets where the worms will take care of anything. :) last winter i had a full bucket of weedy grasses i was able to recycle this way instead of dumping it out back. it's not often i can weed in December but catching those grasses before they developed and dropped seeds saved me some work this spring for sure. :)

i'm envious of that garden soil there! it looks very nice indeed. :)
 

digitS'

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A few opportunities have come up for saving something with unknown availability for this gardener.

An annual brassica was one of these. I bought a package of seed off the rack in an Asian market, immediately forgotten was the name it was sold under. It isn't all that special but just a mild-flavored brassica. Buying seed for what I thought it is from 3 different seed companies has broadened my experience :) but hasn't eliminated the need to save seed from the un-duplicated original.

I found the annual brassicas easy choices for a casual seed-saver. My grandmother's tomato, from seed given me about 30 years ago, has been an easy save and not required isolation. Only once did it seem to cross with another variety. The experience made me aware of the value in saving seed from multiple years. No seed need be collected from the "suspect" plant(s). The "suspect" seed from the previous year can be tossed. And, older seed (not too much older!) can be used again. Worked!

Steve
 

heirloomgal

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An annual brassica was one of these
I didn't know that there was an annual brassica! Admittedly, I have not grown many brassicas. I've dabbled a bit; a few cabbages, purple broccoli, cheddar cauliflower, green and purple brussel sprouts. I've experimented most with kale and collard varieties. I did try once a vegetable which was a cross of brussel sprouts and kale I think it was...which turned out to be not much like either of them...
 

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i'm envious of that garden soil there! it looks very nice indeed. :)
I just got 23 cubic yards of new soil, which I added to my existing beds, plus created a few new sections. This is the best soil I've ever brought in, it is so loamy and rich in nutrients. Only thing is, after that last rain we had - the WEEDS!
 

heirloomgal

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I enjoy perennial flowers, but I keep them also because they serve a very practical seed saving purpose too. They distract pollinating insects from my vegetables. I try to provide more attractive flowers for them than the vegetable plants can provide so there is less chance for cross-pollination in my seeds. Of course, if I am growing any summer or winter squash/pumpkin , watermelon or type of cucumber I only plant one variety, if possible. This year I won't be saving seeds from the cucumbers because I've planted 3 kinds. But the pumpkin plants & watermelon will be fine as I stuck with one variety.

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At times the buzzing of bees on the catmint and veronica is almost rowdy, as though there is many more there than I can actually see. Very audible!
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The 'Opal Basil' I planted isn't quite as purple as I hoped, but the flavour is still very good. I like to grow it on the crowded side because even though I can harvest less leaves per plant, I can still harvest more leaves in total this way.
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'Spanish Skyscraper' peas are a quick growing variety it seems. It's getting more shade than just about any other pea variety but is nearly a foot tall already.
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