There remain a lot of little jobs and tasks to do at the end of a season. They are not the physically demanding ones or dependent on appropriate weather. Rather they are little ones like sorting and cleaning saved seed or working through the seed storage to inventory what’s on hand and what I need to buy, or seek from other seed savers. It seems this transition of one year to the next is a perfect time to do simple tasks and reflect on the past growing season.
I buy a lot of seed and I save a lot of seed. I’m an enthusiastic seed saver. I’ve found that many seeds are so much more vigorous with hardy plants when they are from my own farm. I had some overwintered Russian Red Kale that I let bolt and mature a seed crop. The task of saving the seed was a fairly simple one. Letting the seed pods mature, collecting and drying the pods, then cleaning and storing the seed. I have so much that we often sprout some to add to salads.
As the seasons have added up, the efforts to save and select quality seed has increased. I like to use “open pollinated” varieties whenever I can. This season offers a classic example of selecting and cultivating open pollinated tomatoes. I demoed a variety of round red tomatoes (Bobcat) for market. It was an F1 hybrid. It developed plenty of fruit on a short compact plant. They were round, red and sold well. They excelled in appearance but lacked flavor; rather bland. The wet, humid August and early Sept. saw the Hybrid succumb to leaf diseases first among all the tomato varieties. It’s supposed resistance and vigor not matching the open pollinated heirlooms that thrived into October. It’s not the first time that “superior” hybrids conked out before trusted heirlooms.
I’m by no means a super saver. I save seed from easy seed producing crops. This season I saved brassicas like Pac choi , radishes and kales. Lots of tomato, legumes, and squash varieties as well. Some seed like my favorite carrots and lettuces I buy. The beds for these crops are often planned for 2-3 crops in a season and setting a portion aside to raise seed isn’t always practical. In some years the crop fails to thrive and saving seed is not realistic. The last several years have been tough on a pea crops. So letting them mature a seed crop has been neglected.
The vigor and adaptation of Open Pollinated vegetable crops is my reason for saving the seed. It is why I spend time to raise and save seed. And why there are still little tasks left as the season concludes.
Posted by Farmer Pete @ 08:00 AM EST