Does your Aunt Martha grow the best organic Meyer lemons in all of Florida? Do you have a favorite tomato plant in your yard that was grown from heirloom seed, and was never treated with chemical fertilizer? Do you buy your produce like lettuces, avocado, kale and green onions from certified organic growers, or at a local market where farmers and small gardeners pride themselves on growing non-GMO seed cultivated from pure, natural fertilizers and rich soil made from compost? If so, it is time to take advantage of those great fruits and vegetables by saving seed. This will ensure that you, your family, friends and neighbors have non-GMO food when companies like Monsanto start to spread their toxic seeds even further, out onto larger acreage.
There are seven easy steps to take when saving seed. You will want to make sure that once they are dried, you keep them in a cool, dry place, preferably in a vacuum-sealed mylar pouch or a dark container so that they won’t lose their ability to germinate. Some seeds will store for a year or more, others have a lesser germination time, so if you aren’t going to plant them next season, give them to a neighbor or friend to plant instead and then ask them to save some seed to give back to you the next time they harvest their fruits and vegetables.
- Try to save a variety of seeds so that your body can enjoy a rich, and varied collection of fruits and vegetables that each offer their own phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Even if you love dinosaur kale, make sure to save seeds from several varieties to account for strange or inclement weather and the varied germination of plants that grow differently in different regions. Consider planting beans in multiple varieties too as a great non-meat protein source.
- Some seeds can be scraped easily from the flesh of a fruit, like organic lemons or oranges, limes, or pomelos, but other fruits or vegetables can make seed extraction down-right messy. You can use a spoon or even a screw driver or metal pick to help get seeds out. Don’t worry about having extra pulp, you can wash that away in a shallow pan to separate the seed form the fruit or vegetable fiber.
- Once you have scraped out or picked out your seeds rinse them carefully and extract the extra pulp, then lay them down on a glass dish – not paper towels, as they can stick, and the smaller the seed, can suffer more damage this way. You also want air to be able to circulate evenly around the seed, so a shallow glass dish is perfect. They should go in a sunny spot, but make sure you keep an eye on them for several days. You want them to dry, not sprout, unless you will be using them immediately for planting.
- Once the seeds are dry, place them in an envelope or plastic bag (without BPAs) and label it clearly so you know which seed you are holding for the future. Even if you are familiar with many seeds by looking at them, it makes it easier to label them when you start saving multiple varieties. Also date the seed with the day you place them in the dry container.
- Seeds from flowering vegetables like lettuce can be shaken into a paper bag to collect, and don’t’ require any drying time, usually. They can often just air dry for a few hours and then go straight into a storage container. When a flower of a vegetable starts to become dry, this is a good time to gather seed.
- Always put your seeds in a cool, dry place with low humidity.
- Some seeds can be stored in the refrigerator, and others can even be frozen so that they can be used almost five or six years later. Check with a master gardener to find out which seeds germinate best when previously frozen.
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.
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