2 months after my first gardening post I manage to get to the second about seed saving, a very basic guide only!
We do buy seeds but we also save what we can ourselves. Lettuce, silverbeet, kale, broccoli and spinach can all be left to go to seed. Usually once they start to dry out snip the heads off way down the stalk, tie a bag over the heads and hang upside down in a airy place, the seeds will fall into the bag. Because our garden is large and space is not a problem my husband leaves one or to plants to just self sow where the are. Once the seeds have dried out on the plant they will fall into the soil, and little seedlings just pop up everywhere….or blow everywhere! He just lifts these and plants into rows as required but we do get vegetables growing in odd places, nooks and crannys everywhere.
Pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum, cucumber, melon (basically anything with a seed inside) can have the seeds scooped out, pick the seeds out of the flesh and dry on a paper towel for a week or so. Seeds are then stored in envelopes until needed.
Most of our tomatoes are grown by dropping tomatoes onto the ground at the end of summer covering with pea straw, and the following spring they start growing through whats left of the pea straw and are just transplanted out. Otherwise, scoop flesh out and with tweezers pick the seeds out and place on a paper towel until dried out ( a week) and store as above.
Garlic just comes from previous seasons garlic, separated into cloves and planted out.
Onions and leeks grow little white ball flowers at the top of the plant at the end of the season. Once these have dried out they can be cut off the plant before digging up, a paper bag tied over the flower and left to hang upside down till the seeds drop.
Carrot seed can be collected like this too but the leaves grow very long and stalky and can take up alot of room….and the seeds are very fine, I find these a bit more fiddly to do.
Beans and peas can be left on the vine till they are dried out. Split the pods open, empty seeds out and dry until very hard.
Alot of our herbs just self seed. Leaving plants to self seed is not particularly attractive in the garden, they are dying off and straggly for a long period of time but our garden is large and this doesn’t worry us…not for everyone though. Saving seed seems to be a natural progression for alot of gardeners and to begin with we just bought ours but as time has gone on it seemed such a waste of money we didn’t need to spend. We now find it really rewarding to save our own, and alot cheaper. We try to get 2 – 3 harvests out of each part of the garden from late spring through to late autumn, that’s alot of planting and seeds to purchase at some expense. Free food is the ideal for us 🙂
We also have numerous fruiting trees which have all self seeded in the vegetable garden over the years from kitchen scraps – avocado (grown but not the right climate here to fruit), apricot, peach, plum and lemon….and a walnut which we found as a seedling growing under a larger a tree. The conditions have to be right for self seeding – great though it is to have them only a very few really have popped up from all the hundred of seeds which must be in there. But they could be tried in pots, certainly worth trying! I have also grown tamarillo seeds (done the same as tomatoes) but lost the plants with frost.