It’s always hard to give up a chunk of time to go do something during the summer when there is so much to be done at home. This past weekend was my second Seed Saving Class and I have to say it was well worth the time!
The gardens were so beautiful and it was amazing to see the difference in just a month.
So much was covered in the two hours I actually took six pages of notes! Sylvia has her various plants that she is collecting seed from well spaced out. She has several small plots of wheat and barley.
These are heirloom varieties and not the more modern wheat, which is often not as tall. How pretty are the heads of wheat as they are maturing!
I have never grown sweet potatoes but I am going to have to give it a try. Sylvia has four varieties that she grows each year; Georgia Jet, Beauregard, Red Yam and Carolina Ruby. We spent some time going over the different way to create slips, which is what you use to plant sweet potatoes. Quite different from regular potatoes where you plant sections of the tubers.
There was also information on knowing when to harvest your seeds. For example tomatoes and melon seeds are ready when you eat the fruit unlike peppers, eggplants and cucumber where you have to let the vegetables over ripen before the seeds are ready to save.
Spacing was another topic that was covered, some plants need extra space if you are going to let them go to seed for example parsnips. Onion and leeks don’t require as much space.
The number of plants to plant also varies. To collect a good sample of seeds from corn you need more than 100 plants to have a good gene pool to work from.
I also learned that you can grow rice in Vermont! There are some varieties that do not require that they be grown in rice paddies. It will be interesting to follow this rice crop through the season.
I really enjoy spending time with fellow gardeners. Especially when they are facing many of the same challenges you are. Here in Vermont we face a very short growing season with frosts as early as Labor Day and you really can’t start putting things in the ground until the end of May! Learning what other people are doing to extend their growing season is invaluable. Learning that by saving your own seeds you can actually develop seeds that have a better tolerance for the cold. Your seed viability also increases; Sylvia says she has seeds that are still 100% viable after five years!
It was another wonderful class, I look forward to going back in July!