SEED SAVING: Not So Hard After All! Basil and Snow pea

I have recently started seed saving after having great success with a few of the veggies and herbs that I grew over the last summer. It wasn’t intentional that I started gathering seeds, I have seen articles on seed saving and thought “too hard” and then when I went to buy seeds and seedlings I would cringe at the price that came up on the cash register. Then I had read about exclusion zones, if I wanted to grow more than one variety to avoid cross pollination. But then I have always liked how some people grew plants from decade’s old lines. For a few years my mum grew pumpkins and kept the seeds and it was awesome. But pumpkins are easy, just put the seeds on the window seel to dry and put them away for next year. Turns out most seed saving works this way….Simple!

It all began for me after many failed attempts to grow snow peas that I had planted as seedlings, brought from the nursery. In my current garden especially, every single snow pea plant died. I’m not sure if it was the water, or they couldn’t handle being transplanted to new soil. After a few attempts I gave up. Around this time I also bought a few small bales of pea straw to use as mulch. I had never used straw before and was impressed when I saw pea shoots shooting up everywhere. I figured it had to be great for the soil. I was not at all concerned about overhead watering (mildly salty bore water) or if any were stepped on. As long as they did their bit for the soil. Amazingly they survived and even more excitingly, they gave me lots and lots of snow peas. I loved watering my summer garden and munching on them in every area of the garden. It was a lovely surprise as I had no idea of what sort of straw I had used. This is when I started to really consider the advantages of seed saving. The brought snowpeas were doomed as soon as they entered my garden, but these “introduced” ones thrived. Why not save seeds and ensure I have these hardy peas every year. As it turned out by the time the pods had dried out, there were also plenty of seeds dropped into the garden and I have been moving them all to their own patch ever since, plus I now have seeds saved that I will turn over as new seeds are collected. I love it. Hardy seeds that I know are organic….and they are free!

Last summer, I also grew the best Basil I have ever grown. It was fantastic. By the end of the season I had stopped cutting the flowers off and I realised that there were seeds in those flowers. I left the flowers on the plant until they turned brown and dried. So again I collected up some and experimented with separating the seeds from the husks. In the end, rubbing it all between my fingers over the bowl was the best method for me. It was also great physio for my hands and the aroma was wonderful. With a little research I also found out the basil seeds will last for about 5 years, so I’ll give some away, because I probably have enough to last me ten years and Ill replace them next year. Also if I want to try more basil varieties next season, I just need to make sure I only let one variety flower at a time. Sounds easy after all!!!!

So now I’m looking at what other seeds I can save.I’ve collected a few parsley seeds now and I realised that as my Tiny Tim Tomatoes were still fruiting months after the last of my other tomatoes were long gone; I have collected some of the last fruit before pulling the plants. These little plants grew masses of cherry tomatoes over their extended season. They went right through to the first frost in late June
I know it’s silly, but in our consumer driven world it still blows me away that food can truly be grown for free!
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