Veggie Seed Saving

It’s that time of year when we pull out the seeds and start some indoor gardening.  Even though we have snow on the ground and currently falling we have to start preparing our garden.

Currently our back garden

Wintertime in our back garden

When we (Mike) expanded our vegetable garden to 460 sq ft last year our intention was two-fold: 1) grow food so we knew where it came from 2) cut back on our grocery expenses.  The issue with the latter is that yes, we can spend less at the grocery store but we can easily see that savings go right into growing our own food.  Over the next few weeks we will share some ways we’ve been learning to keep our costs down.  It takes a little forethought- last year we learned so much we can’t wait to start this year’s garden.

How can you get seeds for free?

Seed Swap

  •  Now you will need to have some seeds of your own to swap.
  • We swap with our friends Alesandra and Steve and Molly’s Mom.
  • Here in Santa Fe we are lucky to participate in a great organization called Homegrown NM.  They host monthly potlucks.  At the potluck the gardeners put out their extra seeds on a table and take other seeds they want. It’s a great way to get varieties of plants that work in your climate.

Ask for seeds as a gift

  • Mike’s cousin sent us a variety of seeds from his farm two years ago.
  • Molly’s Mom gave us bulbs for  a birthday present one year.

Grow an extra plant and let it go to seed

  • We did this with kale, lettuce, spinach,…. One plant can yield hundreds to thousands of seeds that you can use the following year to plant or swap with someone else.  You just have to remember not to harvest everything!
Arugula flowering before it goes to seed

Arugula flowering before it goes to seed

Mike pulling kale that has gone to seed

Mike pulling the arugula after it has gone to seed

Harvest a veggie, extract and dry the seeds

  • We did this with cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.
  • Some seed companies like Monsanto genetically alter the seeds so the seeds will not propagate after the first year.
Tomatoes marked so we can pull seeds, dry and sort the different varieties

Tomatoes marked so we can pull seeds, dry and sort the different varieties

Storing Seeds over Winter

Seed storage is simple but you can screw up.

1.  Make sure they are dry before storing.

2.  Store in small containers preferably not plastic.

  • We used to store our seeds in small ziplock bags.  Moisture can get in and mold the seeds.  This year we purchased small paper envelopes from the office supply store.  The cost was $6 for 250 envelopes.
Sorting out the seeds

Sorting out the seeds

3.  Label the seeds with the name and year before you store them.

  • Although surprises can be fun it can be frustrating when you are trying to place a plant and don’t know what the little seedling is going to be!
Make sure they are all labeled

Make sure they are all labeled

4.  Store in a cool dark place.

  • We keep ours in a hutch on the front porch.  It adds to our white-trash stylin’ and is easy access.  Our fall and winters are cool enough to keep them safe.
Mike sorting and labeling the seeds

Mike sorting and labeling the seeds

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This week we are participating in Frugally Sustainable  Blog Hop.  To see this and other great DIY ideas hop on over to her fabulously sustainable blog hop every Wednesday.

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