Like many of my seed saving in devours they have occurred by accident. This year saving carrot seeds with one of those cases. I must have missed picking on of my carrots last fall, this carrots would be completely woody to eat so I left in in the ground knowing that carrots go to seed after their second year.
To get the best results I only kept the first three umbels for two reasons. This will give me the largest and best quality seeds. Second, this means less flowers for the bees to pollinate so I should have a better changes of having a higher number of quality seeds. At the end of the summer I cut off the umbels and hung them upside down in my garage and forgot about them for a little while.
Harvesting the seeds is pretty easy, just rub the umbels between your hands into a large bowl or container. Pick out any remaining stems or big pieces of chaff. Rub between your hands a little more to cause the chaff to become closer to a powder.
Now with a quick shake in a sieve (used from the kitchen) most of the chaff should fall through leaving the seeds. Just to remember there are up to 2000 carrots seeds in a teaspoon so don’t go overboard since these seeds normally only last a maximum of 3 years in the refrigerator.
You may notice that the seeds do not look like the ones you buy in the packets and have funny little “beards” (which is actually technical name) surrounding the seeds. You can leave these on but it can cause the seeds to stick together making planting a bit more difficult. You can take care of these by giving the seeds a hard rub into the same sieve with firm pressure from your finger.
Though this takes a little more time than some other seeds in about 15 minutes of work I have fairly clean seeds which is more than enough that I can use for this season and more to share/trade with others.
Cilantro (at least that is what we call the plant in the United States) and the seed coriander as it is know to the rest of the world is the first plant I ever collected seeds from.
What I like about cilantro/coriander is that its flowers actually grow great and the bees seem to like them. As an added bonus the collection of seeds really couldn’t be easier. Like other plants I collect seeds on I let them mature as much as possible outdoors on their own and bring them indoors when the heavy rains come.
I give them a little extra time to dry by hanging the bunches upside down in my garage until I get around to the harvest.
To harvest simply find these flower shaped clusters of seeds and pull down to release the seeds and add to your awaiting container. If you don’t care as much how clean your seed collection is you can also run run hands down the whole plant from bottom to top. While this will drop many leaves in your collection, this is definitely the way to quickly harvest a large number of seeds.
Harvesting radish seeds is a little more labor intensive than some other seeds but still pretty easy to accumulate a decent number of seeds in a short period of time.
If you let your radishes be they will grow little flowers and pods like you see below. I like to let mother nature take care of this process as long as possible pulling them only after temperatures start to dip and heavy rains start coming. At that time I will pick the plants and hang them in the garage to dry a little longer.
Once the pods are dry, they should resemble those of the ones below.
All that is left to do is use your finger nail to split the pod open and with a quick swipe of your finger pop the seeds out into an awaiting container. One other option is to simply leave them in the pod and open them up during planting. Now they will take a significantly more space though if you only need a few seeds, definitely a viable option.
Ok there is a little catch, you have to plant the seeds and grow the produce yourself and have perfect weather and unlimited space to do it. Over the past season I have intentionally harvested more seeds than I needed just for the purpose of sharing them so here is your first chance to get some of CVG’s seed stash. This should be a good addition to your current selection of seeds or great for a person just starting out next year.
The harvest values were calculated using my most profitable vegetables in your garden post, so numbers are estimated but I tried to be as accurate as possible. Below are also links to my harvesting techniques of most of the “Self” seeds below (just realized I never wrote up cilantro and radish seed harvesting so expect to see these soon).
CVG’s Seed Stash (Variety Pack)
|Seeds (Est.)||Harvest Value
|Jalapeno Pepper||Self Collected||10||$ 45.00|
|Radish||Self Collected||30||$ 11.66|
|Cilantro/Coriander||Self Collected||100||$ 525.00|
|Bhut Jolokia pepper||Self Collected||10||$ 150.00|
|Sunflower (Big)||Self Collected||20||$ 10.00|
|Spinach||Self Collected||25||$ 11.25|
|Onions (White)||Self Collected||50||$ 12.94|
|Tomato (Early Girl)||Hybrid||15||$ 233.55|
|Corn (Sweet Yellow)||Self Collected||25||$ 31.25|
|Pumpkin||Self Collected||15||$ 150.00|
|Carrots (Finger)||Hybrid||70||$ 15.58|
|Sunflower (Evening Sun)||Hybrid||10||$ 10.00|
|Peas||Self Collected||30||$ 12.50|
|Mint (Spearmint)||Hybrid||50||$ 5.00|
As always just enter a comment and a winner will be randomly selected using my patented “CVG’s Contest Winner Pickorama” on Jan 1st, 2010. This contest is open to everyone inside/outside the United States pending any export/import of regulations of sending seeds, which I am still doing some research on.
I was lucky enough to win some Bhut Jolokia pepper seeds from Red Icculus. In case you haven’t heard of these they are the hottest peppers on earth having a heat rating of over 1 million scoville units. Just to put that into comparison jalapenos are around 5000 scoville units. One property of this pepper is the way the heat builds after consumption, on first bite it is spicy but takes a few seconds until you really feel the burn which is where it gets the name “ghost pepper.”
Now when dealing with these peppers I recommend using extreme caution I have some pain in my nose hours later just from breathing around these things so vinyl gloves and possibly even a mask would be recommended.
Once you have the safety precautions in place the process is actually very simple. Just break them up and pick the seeds up and store in a homemade seed packet. Now eating the pepper whole is not a challenge I want to take though saving the dried pepper flakes and adding a pinch so some chili might be up my alley. Though if you want to watch some people in pain taking see these videos of people taking the Bhut Jolokia pepper challenge on YouTube. Here is my favorite and my inspiration to not take the challenge.
I am planning on trying to grow one of these using my new hydroponic setup, well at least once I get around to building…so stay tuned.
The kids and I carved several pumpkins this year but we waited carve the three pumpkins we grew in our backyard until Halloween since these were the seeds I wanted to save for planting next year. First, I know exactly how these pumpkins were grow, organically and free of any pesticides. Second, I was able to let these pumpkins grow undisturbed until the day I picked the seeds, so the seeds should definitely be mature.
The process is very simple, while getting the “goo” as my 5-year-old would say out of the pumpkin set the seeds aside and add to a colander. Give them a good rinse and remove any orange “goo” that may have snuck in. Pat dry with a towel and let the seeds dry on wax or parchment paper for a couple days. Once they are dry to touch put them layered on a paper sack and let them dry for a few weeks until putting them in homemade seed packets until the are ready for next year.
If you have way too many seeds than you need (I know I do) you can also use the great recipe to roast some of you extra seeds as a snack:
CVG’s Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Extra pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp of Worchester sauce
- 1/4 tsp of seasoning salt
Directions: Add ingredients to bowl and mix well. Lay on a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes being sure to flip the seeds after about 10 minutes. Eat as soon as you can without burning your mouth.