Feb 11 Caleb Warnock Class: The Easy Seeds

Heirloom Gardening Class Feb 11, 2012 by Caleb Warnock

Seeds handed out - Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash , Lincoln Peas,  Blue Lake Pole Beans

1. Why do we need to save seeds?
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Have all things in common
  • Always have seed and food
  • Seed companies are controlling seeds by sterilizing and copyrighting
  • Involve children. Pass the knowledge down.
  • We need a living, working knowledge of seed sowing. Not a book or knowledge for when we might need it.
  • 98% of all seed available in catalogs in 1910 are now extinct
  • Unfortunately most winter varieties are extinct
  • We need local seed exchange because we need varieties that grow well locally
 2.  General Notes
  • Easy to save—potatoes, lettuce, most tomatoes, peas, beans (self pollinates before flower opens)
  • Almost impossible to save seed—corn, carrots
  • Seed to Seed by Susan Ashworth is the Bible of seed saving, you need it
  • Caleb uses Bloodmeal, and Bone Meal to “fertilize” his plants
  • Caleb sprays vinegar to kill weeds, you can make your own vinegar by filling a 5 gallon bucket with apples, leave for 6 weeks and pour off the vinegar.
 3. You must keep track of the variety of seed
  • Name of variety is essential to know when it grows seasonally and in what climate.
  • If you aren’t going to keep track, don’t participate. The work will be wasted. We won’t know what season to plant the seeds.
  • Make a map or diagram of your garden and label (must keep track in the house on paper)  Any garden markers won’t be reliable
  • Separate your plants so they don’t confuse you when harvesting seed
4. Canned seed packages for emergency
  • Will spoil in the can
  • Take out and put in freezer
  • Re-fridgerated seeds last for 3-5 years
  • For seeds to last forever, you must freeze them, or grow them and save the seeds
  • Low moisture and low temperature are needed for long term storage
  • Thoroughly dry seed first before storing
Lettuce (not spinach)
  • You can cut to eat and it will grow  back
  • Schools of thought on lettuce isolation
    • 1. Extremely strict isolation 0% crossover—50 ft apart
    • 2. 0.1 crossover ok
  • any kind of lettuce, side by side, will be 99.9% pure, acceptable
  • Don’t eat some, let them grow for seed
  • Will grow 4 ½ ft tall
  • When the seed heads first appear (some dandelion like flowers) cut off the whole thing, put upside down in paper bag for 2 weeks.  80% of the seeds will come off into the bag. Rub between hands back into the bag.
  • Label bag!
  • Soil must be 450 for seed germination, so start indoors if too cold.
  • When lettuce goes to seed, they all look alike so you need to have a good diagram
 Peas & Beans
·        Leave some pods to dry on the vine, done—couple of months from when it stops producing. Shell. Leave the 1st ones to mature to dry.  The first fruits are the most prolific seeds.
·        Peas don’t like a lot of water when sprouting.
·        You can plant your peas outside on St Patricks day without any protection.

·        Pole and bush types, pole is much more prolific. Must be propped up as soon as dry, put in freezer 3 days to kill bugs before storing.

·        2 kinds: potato looking leaf (20%) leaf type (easily crossed, pollinates after flower opens)
·        Tomato (80%) tomato looking leaf type (self-pollinating, does not cross significantly)
·        Each seed has a membrane around the seed with natural chemicals that prevent immediate germination. Place 3 days in sun in plastic container covered with plastic wrap. Rinse, dry on wax paper, store, or:
·        Scoop out seeds onto a paper towel and dry somewhere warm.  These seeds will germinate about 1 week later than the method that removed the membrane.

  • Produce flowers that produce seeds. We don’t use them because they cross pollinate. We use genetic clones. Pieces of potato with eyes.
  • Put in cool, dark place over winter. Can’t touch cement. No light. Leave dirt on.
  • Can leave in ground if you use straw method. If straw, those left under the straw will grow again the next season.
  • Don’t use grocery store potatoes, they are irradiated and/or sprayed with chemical to prevent sprouting.
  • We’ll be able to get them from each other soon, for now try Seed Savers, Cooks or any other source you can find.
  • Hand pollinate the ones that you want to save for seed
  • Use some of the first to grow for saving seed
  • Squash is insect pollinated
  • Caleb’s book p. 17 talks about squash pollination
  • Pollinate each female with 3 different male flowers from 3 different vines (you can use them up to 3 times) or you will have genetic depression after a few generations
  • Night before, flower tip will be turning yellow and will not be open
  • Tape the tips of females and 3 males, can use wide blue painters tape
  • Next morning gently pull off the tape, if the flower opens within 2 min it’s ready, pollinate, then tape all around flower so no insect can burrow in
  • The flower will fall off when it isn’t needed anymore
  • Mark by tying bright colored something loosely around vine so you know which is for seed saving
  • Is a very sad seed saving story
  • Baker’s Creek tests every corn seed for GM (genetic modification)
  • Only 3 uncontaminated sweet varieties left
  • Corn is wind pollinated, cannot self-pollinate
  • Corn pollen can travel 5 miles in wind
  • You can hand pollinate corn, but it’s a huge amount of work
  • Need at least 200 plants
  • Corn has huge genetic depression
Root Vegetables
  • All take two years to get seed
  • Turnips, beets, rutabagas, onions, chard, carrots, spinach, garlic
  • Plant, grow them all season
  • Gather them in
  • Put them in your basement
  • Replant them the next year
  • Use the best ones
  • Let them grow out
  • Save one variety to avoid cross contamination
  • For onions, Spanish globes grow well in Utah
  • *onions and garlic do cross pollinate (both alliums)
 Carrots (another sad story)
  • Discussion of white tops, Queen Anne’s Lace
  • It is basically impossible to save seeds from carrots because of the white top (which is everywhere)
  • Your carrots must be 3 miles (some debate on that) from any white top
  • Will all cross pollinate (in the 2nd year) Kale, Chinese Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, cauliflower
  • Only grow 1 variety and isolate them

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