I grew up next door to my granny, and we shared what I consider to be a pretty big yard. Granny had a huge garden behind her house (another house stands there now with its own yard, so that tells you how big it was), and Dad kept one just as big back on the hillside behind our house. They shared a compost pile. Although I grew up around gardens, I found them to be a nuisance. I literally remember thinking that I didn’t understand why anyone would work so hard when they could just go to the store and buy whatever they need. Boy, was I crazy! Now I understand why they put so much work into harvesting their own food.
Why Grow Your Own Food:
- It tastes better – plain and simple! What you buy in the store may have been picked before it reached its ripest and was shipped for days. It isn’t nearly as flavorful!
- It’s better for you. You control the pesticides and chemicals you use (or don’t use).
- It helps you become more self-sufficient. Most of us depend on other people for our basic necessities. This is one more way to break away from that. I want to provide for myself.
- It saves you money. Yes, it does take some time and effort, but it really pays off, especially if you grow a lot and preserve food for the rest of the year.
I’ve recently become more interested in saving seeds. This post about saving seeds: step-by-step instructions will tell you everything you need to know if you want to get started.
Why Save Seeds?
- NON-GMO! If you focus on heirloom seeds, you can avoid GMO food. If you don’t know anyone who can help you get started with non-GMO (heirloom) seeds, there are several websites from which to place orders. Two that I like are Seed Savers and Heirloom Seeds.
- It saves you money! The price of seeds has increased over the years, while the number of seeds in a pack has decreased. Once you start to grow your own food, you can save your own seeds to keep you going! Most people end up with more seeds than they need, so they join or start seed exchanges with friends.
How to Save Seeds:
There is a difference in saving wet-seeds and dry-seeds. Today I’m going to address wet seeds, since I recently saved seeds from a buttercup squash.
Related posts you may find interesting if you like squash:
When saving wet-seeds that are in the squash family, you want to make sure that you not cut into the fruit for at least 20 days after it was harvested. Some varieties can continue to grow during that time.
Fermenting Seeds (optional):
Wet-seeds don’t have to be fermented, but it helps ensure that seed-borne diseases are killed and increases chances the seed will sprout.
Scoop out the seeds (and surrounding pulp attached to them) into a jar with about half as much water. Store the mixture in a warm area (75 – 85F) for 1-5 days. The time depends on your seed and your local climate. You’ll know the seeds are fermenting by seeing bubbles or white mold on the surface. Let this go on for 1-2 days, then clean the seeds.
Caution: Watch that the seeds don’t start to sprout, so don’t let them sit fermenting too long. If this happens, the seeds can be planted right away, but they can’t be dried and stored. Personally, I skip this step altogether.
Place the seeds (and attached pulp) into a large bowl and add plenty of water. Gently rub the seeds with your fingers underwater to remove some of the pulp. I sometimes let my seeds soak for a few hours or a day so that the pulp begins to pull away from them.
Over time, the good seeds will sink, leaving the dead seeds on the surface.
Carefully pour water from the bowl, while letting the dead seeds and pulp fall away. Be careful to not pour so fast that your good seeds will fall out. You may have to repeat this process several times to end up with very clean seeds. You don’t want any remaining pulp stuck to seeds when drying them.
Pour seeds into a strainer or colander and pat with a towel to remove excess water. You’re supposed to place seeds on a sheet of glass or other smooth surface to dry. I have to admit that I don’t do this; instead, I use a cotton cloth. I haven’t had problems with my seeds sticking to the cloth, although I think that some seeds may cause that problem. Don’t use a paper towel – your seeds will more than likely stick!
Place the seeds in a dry, cool place for a few days until they’re completely dry. Afterward, the seeds can be placed in jars or plastic bags for storage.
Virtually any seed can be frozen for long-term storage, but you want to make sure that they are completely dry before doing so. Appearances can be deceiving, as the outer surface can feel dry while the center still holds moisture. To check, take a seed outside on a hard surface and hit it with a hammer. If it crushes, it needs to dry longer. If it shatters, it’s dry and can be frozen.
Store seeds in an airtight container in the freezer. When you’re ready to remove them, make sure that the container comes to room temperature before you remove the seeds. If not, you might kill them.
Start traditions early!
Make gardening and preserving food a family affair.