Friday, August 29, 2008

Saving Seeds, Part II Tomatoes

My last blog we talked about Zinnia, so if you need to be refreshed on the subject, just take a look at last weeks blog! I Don't think I know a single individual who doesn't like a good just picked tomato!, except maybe my sister! Although I can remember a time when I, like my sister, despised tomatoes. Just the thought of that red, seedy, fruit made shivers run up and down my spine. When I was younger my best friend, whose name was also Zack, use to love tomatoes; he would just pick one up and eat it like an apple! UGH! I would think, his mom use to grow little cherry tomatoes right next to the house. Zack and I would go over to them and I would watch him eat them. Now I never told him that the though of tomatoes made my stomach queasy and become woozy, and one day day he asked me if I wanted one. Being a man, there was no way possible that I was going to show him that I was a woos, so I swallowed my pride and basically swallowed the tomato whole! After a moment, or two, I thought about it, and those tomatoes didn't taste so bad! The rest of that day was spent in use eat nothing but cherry tomatoes, and form that day on I have been a avid tomato lover since!
Now that you have heard my little story of the day, lets get down to business! When to want to gather tomato seeds, the first step is to get your supplies ready. You will need...
  • Knife, for opening the fruiting body
  • Small Spoon, for scooping out seeds
  • Strainer, for cleaning the seeds
  • Paper towels, for drying the seeds
  • Storage devises (jars or ziplock baggies), for storage.

You will also need to learn when to pick the tomato, and how to know when the seeds are ready. This is probably the easies of all, basically, when the tomato looks good to eat is when that seeds are ready! Any ripe tomato will do just fine! Your first step is to cut the tomato (DUH!,) there is no right or wrong way to cut it, just have fun!
Once the you have cut the tomato, you will want to scoop out the seeds, for this job you will want a spoon! This is all pretty self explanatory, once you have scooped out the seeds, put them in a fine mesh strainer, like the one shown int the picture. You want a fine mesh strainer so that the seeds don't go through the strainer and down the drain!
Now that the seeds are in the strainer, you may have noticed some jelly looking flesh around the seeds. If you wanted, you could stop right here, and just let the seeds dry as is. If you do decide to do this, you will end up with one great big lump of seeds that will be bane of your existence when you try to separate them! The way I like to do my seeds, is similar to the way professional companies do it, or at least I think it is! Any who, this method will give you clean looking seeds that will be able just like the store bought ones! This is what the stainer is for.
That jell stuff around the seeds is a growth inhibitor, so I like to remove it. The first thing you want to do is run it under cool water, room temperature will be fine. With your fingers start to rub the seeds around in the mesh, this will rub off the inhibitor jell, Do this until the seeds look clean. You may have to rinse them a couple of times to get them separated from the seeds, but this proses should not take long.
Once you have removed the seed jell, lay the seeds on a cloth or a paper towel, to get the excess water off. Once the seeds have dried off a little bit, transfer them to a clean dry paper towel or cloth. Fold the cloth up so that the seeds to not fall off and label the seeds with the name and date, this will ensure that the seeds do not get mixed up with other seeds! Be sure to check the seeds every now and then, to make sure that they don't mold. After a week or so, you can now take the seeds off the towel, and store in ziplock baggies, or click HERE to download some templates for seed packets!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saving Seeds, Part I Zinnias

Now is the time of year were everyone is all in a buzz for seed collecting! If you are like me, your whole purpose for collection these seeds is because you are cheap or you really want to save some of your seeds so that you can trade them online (because your CHEAP,) or you may be very saintly and are trying to keep that particular variety of seed alive! What ever reason you may have seed saving is well worth the time and effort that you put into it.
I can remember when I was younger, I had tried to collect some pepper seeds. I took every pepper in the house, all of which were from the store, and stuck them in a bottle which I stashed in my junk drawer. That following spring I proudly put my hand in my dresser drawer and pulled out that bottle of peppers. As I proudly pulled it out of my dresser I looked at seeds and shrieked in horror, instead of the beautiful peppers that I had stored away that fall, I had a bottle of whitish blue mold! You see I had made the common mistake of putting away my seeds before drying them. With all of the moisture in the seeds, it caused the whole batch to mold, and boy did it mold. Lets just say, that bottle didn't have a happy ending!
This will actually become a series of blogs that I will do. In this blog I will talk about: How to Harvest Seeds, and How to Store Seeds. I will start out by doing some of the most popular seeds, seeds that we all have grown, such as...Zinnias, Tomatoes, Peppers, Snap Dragons, Cucumbers, and Prairie Mallow. So look forward to a new edition each week, and will follow the order that I have written them above.
I will also Publish them online as we go along, so that you can have them all on one piece of paper and not have to look through all of the blogs...not that I mind!

There are some simple tools that will be a life saver when it comes to harvesting and cleaning seeds! These are are located in the picture above, but for the sake of your eyes I will list them for you.

  • Knife, for opening the fruiting body
  • Small Spoon, for scooping out seeds
  • Strainer, for cleaning the seeds
  • Paper towels, for drying the seeds
  • Storage devises (jars or ziplock baggies), for storage.


Zinnias are a classic plant when it comes to the garden. I do not know of a single gardener who hasn't, at one time or another, had this plant in their garden. If you want to collect seeds form this lovely plant the best thing you will need to learn is...Patients! Yes, patients, and the reason I say this is because you really need to wait until the flower has completely died before you can start to harvest the seeds. A trick that I like to use is to tie a fine mesh bag around the flower head that I want to harvest seeds from, this little trick will keep the birds from eating all of the seeds and it will catch any seeds that fall out of the seed head!
When harvesting the seeds from the seed head you will have to have a hard surface underneath you, as it will help with the clean up. The first step is to grab the seed head...DUH! After that you will want take your fingers and pull off all of the petals so that you have one big pile. Once this is accomplished, sift through all of the debris to find the zinnia seeds. Zinnia seeds look like little arrow heads or like flat sunflowers. Once done sifting to find the seeds go ahead and compost the material left over. Be sure that when you put you seeds away, for storage, that you mark that container that they are in with the "seed name" and "date of harvesting". This way you will not
someday in the future, say..."What is this?" Trust me, I have done this many times! Here is another tip for you; if the zinnia flower was dry when you were collecting seeds from it, go ahead and store the seeds. If they were not, you will need to either let them set out to dry or wrap them in a paper towel. Be sure that if you put the seeds in a paper towel, that you check on the seeds every couple of days so as to prevent your seeds from molding. Learn from my experience with the peppers and don't ever put seeds away wet or fresh from a plant! This will only

As always, if you have any questions or if something was unclear, please contact me or leave me a comment so that I can help you out or maybe clarify something!
Also I will attach a link to all of the pictures of the zinnias and put a link out so that you can view the rest of the series on storing and collecting seeds!

This is the link for this article on seed saving, and the ones to follow!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


It is August and now is the time to start harvesting and planting garlic! If you have never planted garlic, now is the time to give it a try, and if you have then there is always something that you can learn!
Garlic (allium sativum,) just the sound of the word or the smell of it on some body's breath can send you running for your life in the opposite direction! What most people don't know is that garlic has a hugely long history. Garlic is believed to be first originated in central Asia and then brought around the world by traders. Now everyone knows what garlic is, even if they don't like it. However, if you are like my family and I, you know that the more garlic you use the better everything is.
I remember when I was really young, there was a next door neighbor girl who would come over all the time because she loved the way our house smelled. As she said, our house smelled like garlic. I tell you what, you will not meet very many people like her. Often she would leave her stuffed animals at our house for a week or more, so that the smell of our house would penetrate her toys, this way she could smell garlic at her house!
Now I am not saying that you have to leave your toys at my house, because if you do I will throw them away! What I am saying is that you too can have a house that will draw people from all around because of the pleasant aroma!
I was going to post the article that I wrote explaining when to plant garlic, how to care for it, and when to harvest it; but I found that the article is way too long to be published here. For your sake I will just leave the link for it, and if you want you can read it! Click HERE for the article about garlic or you can click on any of the garlic pictures
Hope you enjoy!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Have a Problem

Ok, I don't know if you have any problems with your garden, but I do! Here recently I have been having the largest problem with cucumber beetles, which means that I was pulling my hair out by the hands full...I eventually stopped since I was afraid I might go prematurely bald! Cucumber beetles are about 1/4 in. long with three black stripes on there backs filled with yellow in between. I had dueled with these menacing creatures before when I had planted green beens, lets just say I have never planted them since, I lost! The cucumber beetles had just come and eaten then all the leaves and all of the green beens where wasted since they could not be eaten due to the fact that they had little brown dots all over them from where they had bitten them. To this day green beens have not graced my garden since. Maybe someday I will be brave enough to plant them again.
Thank God that I have a mother who knows so many things that it would blow the mind of any person on the face of this earth, and she had read that NEEM OIL is the cure all for ant critter, bug, or anything that you do not in your garden to live. Since I am an organic gardener I was not going to use Seven on my plants, so instead I mixed some neem oil into a container with some water, and into that I added some tobacco (this is the only reason it is in our house to begin with!) WOW! If that wont kill something I don't know what will! At first I didn't think anything would happen to those beetles since I was seeing their eggs all over the leaves of the squash!
You see I had planted some squash, some spaghetti squash, and I just love home made spaghetti squash spaghetti...YUM!!! I was really looking forward to eating that spaghetti and knowing that it came right form the garden; I had even gone so far as to start my seeds from scratch, nurturing them all the way, and now come to find out that they were infested with these tiny beetles! Eventually ( 2 weeks) later I start to notice that there are not as many of them on my squash blossoms! I was ecstatic, all my dreams and aspirations had come true, it was a miracle!
After my battle with the beetles, I had come to find out that the reason not a single squash was growing was because my plants were not producing any female flowers, only male flowers were being produced! So all this time I was pollinating my plants was for nothing! I was considering buying a toupe so that I could resume pulling my hair out.
I had decided to go to canoing camp and leave all my troubles behind for the moment, ignorance is bliss, right! Well, it was until I came back, when I returned all of my spaghetti squash had wilt! I was so upset that I pulled out ever squash plant that even had a name that sounded like Italian cuisine.
When all of this was said and done I took some scrap plant material (not from the squash mind you) and threw it into the compost pile, only to find a squash plant growing, no, flourishing from a tiny seed that had been thrown away last year to be composted! On this miracle of a plant was once little baby female flower! So at least all my time and effort has not been wasted for nothing. Maybe next year I will just throw all of my seeds into the compost pile and see if they grow instead, well you cant blame me for thinking about it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Story Part II

Here is the rest of my story;

Like I had said before, I had just taken over the garden across the street and was just starting to call it home, when out of the blue, the cute, adorable, little chipmunks that I use pretend I was when I was younger, had turned ravenous and mean. First they struck at my cucumbers, eventually taking down every cucumber that I had planted except 2 of them. I believe that year I had gotten 2 cucumbers of the eight that I had planted, and at that they were not the best either. I viciously went to war with them, not being sure of what I could do, and a little bit sad that they had to be so cute! Although I fought the fight, I didn't know anything on how to stop them from eating all of my cucumbers and without hurting them. Eventually my only option was to leave them alone and to live with them, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't sprinkle some HOT CAYENNE PEPPER around my plants...*evil side is coming out*!

Alas, chipmunks were not the only critter that has come to menace my garden! Along with the little chipmunks there were the HUGE slugs...ewe! These slugs were the largest slugs that I had ever seen, They were at least 4 or 5 inches long and they were ferocious! These were easy to solve though since my neighbor had bought a book for me that talked non stop about ways to get rid of slugs! One of the way that they said to get rid of slugs was to put copper wire around the base of the victimized plants, the copper wire causes a electrical shock when the soft bodied slugs come across it! They dislike it enough that they stayed away form my plants and all went to the person across form me!

With all stories there seems to be a tragic ending somewhere; about 2 years ago my neighbor had put her house up for sale, so I had to plow down my garden and sow grass seed down. On the flip side, there is a happy ending, I was able to convert my back yard to a garden wonder land of my own!

So now you all know my story and how I started on my journey in gardening. I would love to hear your story as well. Can't wait to see how all of you started you gardening journey!