September marks the start of the gardening season, and if you spread seeds you’ve saved yourself, your plants will grow stronger each year.
September brings with it a plethora of spectacular events. The season of spring has here. Frosts end semi-officially in many temperate and chilly places (it’s difficult to form an official arrangement with frost). Bees swarm. Seeds begin to germinate. Summer is on its way. It’s time to start stepping up the pace in the garden. My nonnos Vincenzo and Michele grew vegetables from fence to fence in their gardens. My nonno Michele resided next door to me throughout my whole life, and because there was no boundary between the two houses, our yard became his. Despite having huge gardens, my nonnos didn’t use mulch because there was no bare soil. To fill up the spaces, they utilized lettuce and radicchio. They fertilized using their own urine (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, but dilute it first).
They didn’t spend much money on their garden. They were the ones that stored their own seeds. Chooks were maintained for fertilizer, eggs, and meat. Rabbits, on the other hand (a warning: if a nonno ever gives you a rabbit as a pet, do not believe it is for your exclusive use and know it is likely to end up on the dinner table). They harvested seaweed from the shore and used it to make their own fertilizer. They mixed up their own seed-starting mixture. Their tomatoes and beans were staked with long poles. They kept their seedlings in the same pots year after year. They tied tomatoes with Nonna’s old pantyhose. They didn’t spend any time. They were able to fix everything.
Nothing is ever damaged in the nonno’s world, and everything could come in helpful at some point.
Tomato, chili, eggplant, capsicum, and cucumber seeds should be planted in pun-nets in September, as should peas, beans, and zucchini seeds in soil mixed with old chicken dung, compost, potash, and blood and bone. Despite the unpredictability of the weather, my nonnos taught me that September marks the start of summer in many ways. Those first December tomatoes are practically in my mouth.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR SEEDS SAFE
Seeds that you preserve yourself are not only less expensive (in some cases, free), but they are also likely to be fresher and stronger than those purchased. If that wasn’t enough of an incentive to preserve your own seeds, they also adapt to your growing circumstances and environment, resulting in stronger plants that provide more food year after year.
With a few exceptions, saving seeds isn’t difficult. Once you know how, storing seeds so they last until you need them is also simple. In no time, I’ll have you saving, storing, and germinating your own seeds, exactly like my grandmothers taught me. Make a bold move.
Peas, broad beans, beets, rocket, and parsley are among the simplest plants to keep seeds from. Allow a beetroot, rocket, or parsley plant to go to seed, then pick the seeds off the plant when they are dry and scatter them over the yard. In no time, you’ll have fresh plants growing.
SEEDS ARE NOT INCLUDED.
Some plants reproduce in non-traditional ways, and their seeds cannot be stored. Mushrooms, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, a variety of perennial herbs, and garlic are all examples. The majority of fruit trees are propagated by grafting and cuttings. If you want to save seeds, avoid hybrid seeds.
KEEP THE BEST FOR YOURSELF AND CONSUME THE REST.
Choose the best plant of each particular vegetable when it is at its height and tie thread around it so you don’t mistakenly pick it. You’ll have the strongest seeds for next season if you save seeds from your best plants. Leave the veggies alone on the string-marked plant and do not pluck them. Allow them to dry on the plant for as long as possible in order to grow robust seeds. If you have the space, let the seeds to dry entirely on the plant, but most gardeners require the space for the following harvest.
SEEDS ARE DRIED.
Before storing seeds, they must be dry and firm. Pull the plant out and hang it upside down somewhere out of the weather for two weeks once the veggies on the plants indicated with thread have matured past the stage where you’d like to eat them.
CLEANING THE SEEDS:
When dealing with plants whose seeds are encased in wet flesh (such as zucchini and eggplant), it’s best to scoop the seeds into water and vigorously massage them. Rinse them under running water in a sieve before drying them on a platter or in the sieve. Other plants, like pak choy and rocket, develop seed pods that must be burst open in order to obtain the little spherical seeds. Cluster seeds are produced by beetroot, lettuce, and silver-beet and may be easily plucked off.
CUCUMBER SEEDS AND TOMATOES:
If you’re planning ahead for summer, fermenting tomatoes and cucumbers before saving their seeds is a good idea. Cutting opens the vegetable and exposing the seeds to the air for a week before washing and drying is a simple approach. Nonno’s approach for tomatoes is even easier: he slices the tomato in half and spreads the pulp onto a paper towel. He then hangs them up to dry before storing them. He plants the paper towel in seed-raising mix the next tomato season. Fast, uncomplicated, and straightforward.
SEEDS OF BRASSICA AND CORN:
Brassicaceae (broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) and maize seeds are difficult to preserve because they cross-pollinate. You might come up with methods to counteract this as a backyard gardener, but Nonno won’t object if you merely buy seeds or seedlings of these vegetables.