The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

August 25, 2016

Saving radish seeds

Filed under: Seeds,Vegetables — bob @ 9:02 am

Our garden is big enough for things to go unnoticed plus I’m not as tidy a gardener as I should be.

This week I found a radish that had gone to seed. Somehow, one radish managed to escape being harvested with the rest of the crop. It continued to grow, flower and produce seed pods right under my nose. Apparently, it got left behind when I was pulling radishes this spring.

If it is left to grow past the eating stage, a radish plant will  eventually send up a flower stalk. The  resulting flowers are then pollinated by insects. Seed pods that superficially resemble peas or beans arise from the pollinated flowers.

It takes nearly the entire growing season for radishes to produce seeds. This one’s pods were already dry and contained mature seeds.

Pods and seeds from this radish are somewhat smaller than typical radish seeds.

Pods and seeds from this radish are somewhat smaller than typical radish seeds.

radish seeds

I’ll save a few seeds to try out next year.

Pollen from one variety of radish often will be carried by insects to a different plant and can easily cross-pollinate another variety of radish. Radishes don’t care if they are pollinated by one variety or another. The seeds resulting from the random cross may or may not produce a desirable eating radish when planted next year.

Since the one in my garden was the only one I found, the seeds should be OK — unless the pollinators brought in unknown pollen in from somewhere else. Professional seed growers separate their different radish varieties by a half mile or more.

Anyway, I’m keeping a few seeds to try out next season.


February 18, 2015

Time for starting early seeds.

Filed under: Seed Starting,Seeds — bob @ 12:23 pm

This is time of the year when most people are counting down the number of days to the first day of spring. Gardeners  on the other hand, are calculating the number of weeks until the last frost. That date is far more useful for gardeners than the vernal equinox.

At this time, we are somewhere between ten to twelve weeks from our normal last frost. The way the winter is going right now, I’m planning on a later frost date rather than an earlier one. You have to take your best guess as to when it will be safe to plant outdoors months down the road.

The other alternative, which most people choose, is to just let the greenhouse manager worry about frost and buy your plants from him when the time comes. The problem with that is if you want a particular variety that you’ve seen in a catalog or magazine, it may not be available unless you grow it yourself.

So it’s time to sow some seeds, those that need a long time to germinate, grow and develop before setting outside in the garden. My new seed order arrived in the mail Tuesday and in it were some of those seeds I need to sow now.

The first of many seed orders.

The first of many seed orders.

I’m starting just a few vegetables this week: onions, leeks and celery.  I’ve cut back on flowers and am sowing just heirloom petunias and black-eyed Susan. In years past I would have been starting butterfly weed, sweet William, foxglove, and yarrow too.

The peak season for starting the rest of the seeds won’t begin for another three or four weeks.










February 6, 2015

Going through seeds

Filed under: Seeds — bob @ 9:24 am

We’ve managed to save up a pretty large collection of seeds over the past several years.

There are two large, covered containers in my garage that contain over twenty pounds of assorted vegetable and flower seeds. Most of them are long expired. The oldest are between five and ten years old. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re no longer usable. Even some of the oldest may still be viable, that all depends on what species they are. I just need to take the time to organize them.

I plan to go through and separate the out-dated, non-poisonous ones like sweet corn, peas and melons and feed them to the chickens. The rest I’ll toss into the compost pile. I did that once about five years ago, now it’s time to do it again.

this is a good time of the year to sort through all of those left over garden seeds.

this is a good time of the year to sort through all of those left over garden seeds.

Also we have a number of current seeds, those that we’ve either purchased or saved from our own plants. They date back only a year or two or three. We keep them in glass jars in the fridge. They stay in the planting rotation from year to year. We’ll plant most of those this year.

We don’t have a detailed list of what is in those jars, that’s what Judy is doing this week. Once she gets the list done and compare it to our garden plans, we’ll place our seeds orders.






January 15, 2015

Finishing up saved bean seeds

Filed under: Seeds — bob @ 10:22 am

I finally finished shelling and putting away the last of my bean seeds. These are from the same plants I wrote about earlier in the gardening season.

Saving bean seeds is a lot of fun and is just about the easiest of all seeds to save. You don’t have to pick through over-ripe fruit or worry about things like cross pollination.

Because of their structure, bean flowers are pollinated by pollen produced in that individual flower. That means it is very difficult for beans to cross-pollinate. Less than five percent of bean seeds end up being cross-pollinated. So, for the most part, they stay true to type and reliably produce the same type of bean year after year. Beans of this type are called “open-pollinated”. There are literally thousands of open pollinated varieties of beans.

Bean seeds have a wide variety of color.

Bean seeds have a wide variety of color.

Hybrid beans, on the other hand,  are cross-pollinated on purpose by plant breeders. The breeders maintain a special genetic family tree for each variety and use field technicians to hand pollinate each bean flower. That’s why hybrid seeds are more expensive than open-pollinated seeds.

Although hybrid bean varieties are available for gardeners to plant, they are used mostly by large scale farmers who need plants that have certain characteristics. One example is beans ripening all at the same time so the crop can be harvested by machine. Hybrid seeds are labeled with the designation “F1″ either on the seed packet or in the seed catalog.

Once the first generation of hybrid seeds is grown and harvested, the next generation ends up producing plants that are no longer true to type. So, unless you just want to experiment to see what you get, don’t save seeds from a hybrid crop.

I didn’t wait this long to put away my beans on purpose, it’s just that that job kept being pushed down on my list of priorities.  There was no hurry and no harm done to the seeds . Beans need to be dry anyway before being put into storage. Since I had them spread out on a table in the house while still in their pods, they had a chance to thoroughly dry. Those extra dry bean pods were very easy to open too.

Bean seeds have a moderate seed life, two to three years. My plan is plant them all next year, eat what I can and save the rest to plant the following year.




December 3, 2014

Grow paw paw trees from seed

Filed under: Fruit,Seeds — bob @ 11:32 am

I’ve heard experts, farmers and others say for decades that paw paw is on the verge of becoming the next “in vogue” fruit. They may be finally right.

Since current paw paw varieties are so difficult to handle and are impossible to ship because of the soft fruit, only local paw paws are ever available.That makes them well positioned to become popular with locavores and other foodies.

Five years ago I planted eight seeds from a paw paw fruit and ended up with a half dozen seedlings happily growing in pots. Unfortunately, they were lost during a move and I never pursued starting any more. Since it takes five to seven years for a paw paw tree to begin producing,  by now, I probably would have had a small crop to pick this year.

Just this week, I was given a paw paw fruit. I’m inspired once again to save the seeds and start all over again with my future paw paw orchard.

Like most trees native to this area, paw paw seeds must be stratified before they will germinate. Stratification involves exposing seeds to cold temperature and adequate moisture.

In this case, paw paw seeds require 90 to 120 days at 32°F to 40°F while being kept moist. The vegetable crisper of a refrigerator is just the thing to meet those conditions. Just rinse off the seeds, and place them in some moist peat moss in a zip-lock storage bag. Toss the bag in the crisper and forget about it until spring. Don’t let them dry out or freeze, either one will kill the tiny paw paw tree embryo inside the seed.

Paw paw fruit

Paw paw fruit

Next spring plant the seeds into pots of good potting mix. If all goes well, the seeds will sprout in about two and a half to three weeks. Then re-pot as needed in order to give the new seedlings plenty of room to grow.

The most difficult part of the whole process may be finding a paw paw fruit in the first place.



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