Collecting Seed from the Home Garden

Fall is both officially and unofficially here. I still have some tomatoes and peppers producing well but signs of nature slowing down is evident in the number of plants starting to set seed. Time for collecting seed from the Garden is here.

In the past I have saved potato, squash and herb seed. In addition to those, this year I collected seed from Scarlet pole beans, early peas and carrots. Some of my garlic has been set aside to use as seed. I hope to save some tomato seeds as well.

This year’s dismal potato crop has a silver lining. Many of the potatoes are the perfect size to save as potato seeds. Small potatoes with multiple eyes are how I start my potato plants. Both the purple and white potato plants can be grown from these “seeds.”

Maturing on the Vine/Stalk

The annual herbs actually started producing seed last month. I allowed the parsley to flower and the seed head to dry on the plant before collecting seed. As you can see in the pictures the seeds are quite small. Once I cut the stems I allowed the head to dry even more before harvesting the seed.

Coin compaison
Parsley seeds tiny next to a dime.

Carrot seeds process the same way. I allow one carrot plant to go to seed. Just one plant provides all the seed you will need. Nature allows the carrot seed to easily travel. If you look at the close-up photos, the carrot seeds have small hooks which can easily attach to animals passing by.

burs on carrot
Close-up of carrot seed.

The early peas are easy to dry in a similar fashion. One vine is left alone. The peas saved will go into the ground early in the spring. If you love peas and have a lot of space, you will want to let several plants go to seed.

Collecting Seed when Ripe

Pole beans were a new crop for me this year. Several varieties yielded good results. The bright red flower of the Scarlet Runner is a cheery addition to the garden.

Flowering Scarlet Bean

The Cherokee Trail of Tears beans produce beautiful purple-green pods. Ripe beans were gathered and then allowed to dry on the back porch. The seeds inside provide a secondary use in the winter as additions to soups or stews.

Pole bean
Purple-green beans

Different crops necessitate differing manners of collecting seed. The techniques discussed above are relatively easy. Collecting seed through a fermentation process is a challenge to discuss another day.