Saving Dry vs. Moist Seeds: The Seed Collection

Curious about seed saving? Earlier than getting began, it’s necessary to know the distinction between storing moist seeds and dry ones. 

The next excerpt is from Will Bonsall’s Important Information to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening by Will Bonsall. It has been tailored for the online.

(Except in any other case famous, all images courtesy of Will Bonsall.)

Dry vs. Moist Seeds: Gathering and Storing Seeds

after-ripen cucumbers

Determine 6.12. In the event that they’re introduced indoors earlier than onerous freezes, cucumbers can proceed to after-ripen for just a few weeks earlier than processing to enhance high quality.

Probably the most steadily requested seed-saving query is: How can I inform when seed is mature sufficient? Crucial, since immature seeds won’t retailer nicely, nor will they germinate.

We should keep in mind that “maturity” for our functions signifies that the seed germ has developed absolutely; the seed might seem full-sized however nonetheless be succulent and underdeveloped (leek seed is an instance).

Seed-Saving Ideas

Often in seed saving you can’t have your cake and eat it, too—you get seed or meals, not each. Nonetheless there are a number of exceptions.

For instance, cukes (cucumbers) and zucchinis are eaten within the immature stage, and people you want to save for seed have to be left to ripen means past usefulness as meals.

Alternatively winter squash and pumpkins are eaten at full maturity anyway, so your seed squash are additionally meals squash and vice versa (supplied you’ve saved them pure).

Actually the standard of squash seed improves with storage within the fruit—after-ripening, it’s known as— so it’s finest in case you don’t course of all of them at harvest, however scoop out and save the seed of every fruit as you utilize it.

In some unspecified time in the future nonetheless, relying on selection, seeds might begin to sprout contained in the intact fruit.

Working with Dry Seeds

Seeds are typically labeled in line with their processing methodology: moist or dry. Most are dry and are processed by a mix of strategies known as threshing and winnowing. For these seeds their diploma of dryness is a measure of their maturity.

You should buy gadgets for measuring the seeds’ moisture content material, however for our functions it’s straightforward to find out nicely sufficient by following this primary rule of thumb: Are the seed and its environment (pod, bract, et cetera) brittle and crumbly?

Measuring Moisture Content material

For instance, do the pods crack moderately than bend like leather-based? Does all of the trash crumble into mud and stuff that may be blown away? If not, go away the vegetation till they’re absolutely mature. If rain wets them allow them to dry out once more.

If frost threatens and also you’re not sure whether or not the bean seeds are prepared (not like pea seeds, damp beans might be ruined by heavy frost), then you could decide: Are you able to cowl the vegetation to guard them by means of that frost or must you harvest them, though the pods are a bit leathery?

For those who go for the latter, it’s higher to drag your complete vegetation, roots and all, moderately than decide pods. The seeds might be able to draw slightly extra life power from the guardian plant, simply sufficient to complete their ripening.

Subsequent time plant earlier or use some season-expanding technique, so you’ll not have this concern.

Managing Mature Seeds

What about overmature? Typically overmature is a meaningless time period, like jumbo shrimp or fashionable artwork. If seed is mature it’s simply mature, that’s all.

Nonetheless there are issues lest it ought to shatter onto the bottom, an actual problem with brassicas and parsnip, or be eaten by birds, notably composites like salsify and sunflower.

And if seed stalks sprawl over in order that the seeds or pods are on the moist floor, they might both rot or sprout. However the seed itself can’t get “too ripe.”

Avoiding Potential Issues

I’ve developed a number of methods for avoiding the above-mentioned issues. Once I discover brassica seed stalks which have reached the shatter-prone stage, I go away them alone till the following morning.

The seed is not any much less mature then, however the pods may have taken up a slight dampness through the evening hours and might be dealt with with little or no loss.

I acquire them by stripping the pods from the stalks into a big paper bag and even simply clipping off the entire stalks or vegetation in the event that they’re not too badly tangled. I go away this bag opened to the air till the pods are as dry as they had been the earlier afternoon after which proceed to course of them.

When salsify seed is ripening I cowl particular person heads with scraps of gauze, however solely after pollination is lengthy over. In excessive circumstances of persistent moist climate I’ve lined vegetation with some kind of cover, however that’s very uncommon; what will get moist will dry out once more.

Working with Moist Seeds

The “moist” seed crops, those who maintain the seed inside a succulent fruit, like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cukes, require a considerably totally different method. For every of those fruits there are barely totally different clues to find out when seeds have reached maturity.

Tomatoes and Peppers

A tomato must be ripe sufficient for consuming or, higher but, overripe to the purpose the place you may hurl it at a clumsy performer or political opponent. Very not often will a fruit ripen a lot that the seed sprouts inside it.

Regardless of what I stated earlier about underripe seed, tomatoes and peppers are considerably extra forgiving. I’ve frequently harvested inexperienced tomatoes, full-sized and glossy however inexperienced nonetheless, and ripened them in a sunny window, at which level the germ was absolutely developed.

Likewise peppers: Ideally peppers ought to have turned their mature color (often pink, however typically yellow or chocolate brown) on the plant, however once more, I’ve been pressured by early frost to select them inexperienced or half inexperienced and after-ripen indoors, fairly efficiently.

Cucumbers and Zucchini

scraping cucumber seeds

Determine 6.13. Scrape the innards of cucumbers right into a bucket or different container in which you’ll be able to ferment the seeds. {Photograph} courtesy of Joe Hodgkins.

As for cucurbits clearly a cucumber or summer season squash on the consuming stage is ineffective for seed. The cuke have to be left to turn out to be a deep yellow-orange blimp or higher but brown and netted like a melon.

As for zucchini you already know these big inedible prizewinners on the honest? You get the image.

With cukes and tomatoes you will have a clingy goo that consists of amniotic sacs, very like frogs’ eggs in operate and look.

You might merely unfold the entire enterprise out on a rack or paper towel and it’ll ultimately dry, however that might be an enormous mistake.

Retaining Moisture: Unfavorable or Constructive?

You see, that gelid stuff is designed to retain moisture, which may be very useful for seeds which are anticipated to germinate within the quick time period however not for seeds that will want to stay dormant within the packet for a number of years.

It additionally gives a perfect medium for the expansion of assorted illness spores, such because the fungus that causes damping off in seedlings. Hmm! Would possibly simply be a good suggestion to eliminate that stuff, however how?

Letting Fermentation Do the Work

It turns out that goo is well damaged down by a quick fermentation, which not solely doesn’t hurt the seed however truly leaves the seed coat impregnated with a number of antibiotic and probiotic stuff that truly protects the seed from these dangerous cooties. How simpatico!

Market seed is often de-gelled by exposing the seed to an answer of hydrochloric acid. That sterilizes the seed coats however destroys all that probiotic profit. {The marketplace} doesn’t have time to let nature take its course, however maybe you do.

How a lot time does it take to ferment seeds to the proper level? A number of days; some say till traces of mould dot the floor, others say when fruit flies begin to take observe; I say when your vital different yells at you to “Get that stuff out of right here!”; that’s a fairly dependable indicator.

Managing the Seed Combination

When your combination reaches that essential level take the bowl or cup of ugly glop and put it in a glass jar together with a number of instances that quantity of water. (I sometimes develop cuke seed commercially, by which case I exploit 5-gallon plastic, or 18.9 l, pails.)

Stir the combo nicely, breaking apart lumps together with your pinkies—sure, your palms will odor gross, however it goes away in just a few weeks. For those who favor, use a long-handled spoon.

Because it swirls round within the jar you’ll discover some stuff swirling round to the underside and different stuff swirling round to the highest.

Floating Seed

The underside stuff is principally plump seed with among the denser pulp following it, particularly bits of pulp hooked up to seed. The highest scum is usually gas-filled pulpy fibre. If there are seeds blended with the floating crud, both they’re hooked up to some light-weight pulp or the seeds themselves aren’t any good, full of buoyant fuel; no loss there.

fermented cucumber seeds

Determine 6.14. This bucketful of fermented cucumber seed is simply gross sufficient to be processed.

Particularly with cucumbers I all the time have a number of floating seed; it’s alarming to see such good plump-looking seed getting poured off with the scum.

For those who want reassurance avoid wasting out and dry it individually: See the way it shrinks to hole hulls that blow away at a puff. The plumpness, like a child’s smile, was the results of fuel.

Ending the Fermentation Course of

Don’t be fanatic with this primary decantation; be happy with pouring off half of the cruddy slurry. Then repeat the method time and again; every time the cruddy liquid will turn out to be thinner and clearer and the nice seed will sink sooner (it was barely buoyed up earlier than by the denser soiled water).

When the water is clear sufficient to swimsuit you, put the seed in a strainer and provides it a final chilly rinse earlier than spreading it out on a tray or display to dry.

Storing Completely different Varieties of Seeds

Permit a number of days to be on the protected aspect. As with every seeds too lengthy is healthier than not lengthy sufficient, supplied they’re protected from mice. The fuzzy tomato seeds will kind clumps which are simply “singulated” by rubbing between your palms.

Cucumber seeds will retain a dry residual movie that’s simply sloughed off and blown away, however beware: The seed ends can jab your palms nastily in case you rub them onerous. Similar with melons, though they don’t should be fermented, nor do dry-processed squash or peppers.

As with tomatoes and peppers the ripe seeds of cucurbits proceed to attract some life power from the placenta. Regardless that the squash fruits could also be absolutely mature at harvest, the seed is additional improved in case you go away it within the fruit in storage for a number of weeks earlier than scooping out the seeds.

Advisable Reads

Preserving Seeds Organized: Saving & Storing

8 Seed Saving Myths


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