Paeony seed thing. You make my heart sing.
Paeony seed thing. You make my heart sing.
Posted in 'How to', Annuals, Collecting seeds, Lettuces, Seeds, tagged chilli seeds, Collecting seeds from plants, lettuce seed heads, lettuces seeds, seed collecting on September 23, 2012 | 24 Comments »
This year I was so pleased with the fabulous cos ‘Freckles’ lettuce that I grew, that I decided that I’d have a go at collecting seeds from my crop after they’d started to bolt.
I planted a fair few lettuces,
so my seed collecting patch took up a fair amount of space too.
As I started to sift through the seed casings, I realised that my seed collecting was going to take me a fair old while. Not only do you have to divide the outer brown covering from the seeds, but each seed is attached to its own little fluffy parachute, so this has to be carefully detached too (as you don’t want to leave any organic matter other than the seeds in its envelope, as it could rot and the moisture destroy the viability of your seeds). After about half an hour, I started to get itchy, thinking about all the other things I could be getting on with in the garden.
After about an hour, I did have a good pile of seeds, but I still felt a tad resentful about the time I’d spent sorting the seeds to get to my haul. And that got me wondering about how seed companies collect their seeds.
I called Joy at Sea Spring Seeds (a small seed company offering a choice selection of veg seeds) to ask how they collected their seeds. Apart from their Chilli seeds (in which they specialise and offer 40 different varieties), they buy in all the rest from seeds manufacturers. Whilst we agreed that collecting some seeds (I love collecting seeds from beans, sweet peas and hollyhocks) was a worthwhile project, she advised against seed collecting for some plants for a number of reasons. Firstly, letting your plants go to seed can take up valuable growing space and can lead to weed problems as you ignore the space around plants going to seed whilst tending more critical veg production. This is true. I could have pulled these plants up a couple of months ago and had a whole bed of tasty mustard leaves happily growing by now!
Also, large seed manufacturers have specialist drying equipment for the seeds, so that the seeds are dried correctly before being stored and will maintain their viability. Bad drying and storage of your seeds (always store your seeds in a paper envelope in a cool, dry space), could mean that seeds could have lower germination rates when it comes to sowing them. And then there’s the question of hybrid seeds that will never come true as they have 2 different parents. Blimey, this is where things can start to get complicated (unless you want to be truly experimental). If you’re after a specific hybrid plant and don’t want to waste your growing year on a non-too-certain outcome, then it’s best to stick to bought seeds.
All in all, although there is a thrill about collecting your own seeds (I did really enjoy discovering what a lettuce flower and seed head looked like), certainly for lettuces and other more fiddly seed heads, I think I’d rather pay my £2 and save my precious time and space for growing more veg.
Posted in Community growing, Edible Flowers, Plants for tree pits, Seeds, tagged bunting, Bushe's Bushes, cake sunday, Chelsea Fringe, Community get togethers, community veg growing scheme, Edd, edible violas, edible window boxes, Giant red mustard leaf, Home made cake, neighbours baking cakes, neighbours get-together, Nicola Baird home made kids, performing plays in front gartdens, planting tree bases, planting tree pits, plays in gardens, Seed give-away, Street party, Topiary demonstration, Topiary Tim, Veg races on June 1, 2012 | 3 Comments »
As rain and cooler weather are predicted for the coming Jubilee weekend, I was reflecting on how lucky we were with exceptional weather for our Chelsea Fringe event last Sunday. Neighbours in our community veg growing scheme have been getting together at ‘Cake Sundays’ a couple of times a year since 2009, for a seed give-away and to catch up with each other over tea and home-made cakes. This May, as part of the Chelsea Fringe, we invited others to join us and put on a bumper spread with oodles cakes and bunting. It was a really enjoyable afternoon.
Annie (top pic) was on hand to advise on veg growing and gave away over 200 packs of seeds (and many borage and nasturtium plants too), and I was happy to talk to anyone about the delights of edible window boxes. (Giant red mustard leaf and violas above).
Nicolette had loads of visitors wanting to know more about how we started up our veg growing scheme, travelling from South London and as far as Colchester and Manchester to hear our story!
Neighbours and friends baked up the most gorgeous cakes I’ve ever seen (and tasted!),
and we also encouraged entries for the best planting around the base of our street trees, which were judged on the day by Veronica Peerless, deputy editor of Which? Gardening magazine.
Small events punctuated the afternoon and Tim Bushe was a real crowd pleaser with his virtuoso topiary demonstration.
and the afternoon continued with very entertaining veg races involving various transportation methods of cucumbers (hands), cabbages (knees) and potatoes (spoons).
Tim Richardson, creator and director of the Chelsea Fringe, joined us for tea and cake and happily agreed to present Best Tree Pit trophies. Runner up, Nicola, was delighted to recieve her award for a fantastic sculptural framework for sweet peas in her tree pit,
and Eugenie’s winning tree pit was deservedly recognised for providing gorgeous colour and interest in the form of snapdragons, verbascum, cabbages and wildflowers. Always a pleasure to walk by on the way to the shops!
And finally, the warm sunny afternoon was perfectly rounded off by a 10 minute play called ‘Pumpkin Patch’ about stealing veg in a community garden. Heaven forbid!
The Chelsea Fringe continues over the next 2 weekends, up until June 10th with tons of interesting horticultural happenings all over London. I rather fancy the Living medicine cookery workshop in Ladbroke Grove tomorrow afternoon (booking essential) and popping by for more tea and cake at a cheeky land grab in Greenwich on June 10th. Tim Richardson highly recommends, amongst others, the minty Garden of Disorientation in Smithfields, open daily until June 9th (but closed 3rd and 4th June) and the Floating Forest installation, again in Ladbroke Grove. There are up to 90 events listed, so take your pic to get your horticultural fix over the next 10 days. You won’t be disappointed!