Saturday, July 5, 2014

Finding Seeds to Plant

When contemplating what to plant in your garden, bear in mind that you can grow almost anything from seed, with the right amount of attention and persistence. Seeds are certainly your cheapest option, especially since you can find them already in your pantry, spice cabinet, crisper drawer, and garden. Sure, you can just go to the store and buy them, but why not be an adventurous soul and seek out your own?

Seeds from Your Pantry

The cache crop in your pantry is, by far and away, legumes. They are abundant, sprout readily, and come in a wide variety. Any kind of dried whole bean, pea, chickpea, and lentil may be planted. 
You can separate bulbs of garlic into individual cloves. Allow the cloves to dry, pop them in the ground, and each one will grow you a whole new bulb.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be used as seed potatoes. Cut each potato into chunks, dry for a few days, and they can be planted to grow potato and sweet potato plants.
Whole, raw grains can also be planted. Whole wheat kernels, whole oats, barley, and dried corn are good examples.
Whole, unroasted, unshelled nuts can be planted to grow into trees, provided they are not too old, and if planting conditions are correct.

Seeds from Your Spice Cabinet

Planting seeds from your spice cabinet can be kind of iffy. You never really know how long they have been on the shelf at the grocery store, and often times one can lose track of how long they have been in your spice cabinet. Also, some seeds may have been heat-dried and may not germinate as a result. Good options for you to try to plant are mustard, coriander, fennel, and dill. Others that may work, but are less likely to germinate, are cumin and celery. Cumin, because it is often heat-dried, and celery because it can be difficult to germinate, even under ideal conditions.

Seeds from Your Crisper Drawer

So, maybe some of these produce items you don't keep in your crisper drawer. The point I am making is that you can grow plants and trees by saving the seeds from produce you use for cooking and eating. The vast majority of fruits and fruit-type vegetables yield seeds suitable for planting. The grocery store may not be the best place to find your seed-containing produce, but most varieties should be okay. The best place by far to get produce for seeds is your garden, your neighbor's garden, or from a local farmer at a farmer's market.
Cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and melons have seeds that are easily removed and dried for planting. Watermelons may be the most enjoyable melon to save seeds from, as one needs only eat, spit, and plant more watermelons!
Peppers can easily be separated from their seeds, you simply need to use your thumb to scrape the seeds away from the core.
Pits from stone fruit such as peaches, apricots, plums, and cherries can be scrubbed clean and planted in the fall, or refrigerated for a few months and planted anytime year-round.
Although it is a strange and somewhat tedious engagement, tomato seeds can be liberated from their gelatinous goo, dried and planted.
You can sprout grape vines from saving your grape seeds. I think this is the only reason I might be tempted to buy any grapes other than seedless. 
Berries can be mashed and strained to retrieve their seeds, or frozen or dehydrated and planted whole. The first blackberry bush we ever had only bore one single berry. I saved it and dried it to plant another bush, but the little dried berry got lost while we were moving, and the blackberry bush didn't survive long enough to move with us.
Some seeds that may yield less-than-favorable results are apple and pear seeds, and seeds from fruits or vegetables that are hybrids. Apple and pear seeds each contain a genetic sequence all their own, not one related to the sequence of their parents. If you decide to plant apples or pears from seed, the chances of ending up with a tasty end product are not unlike your chances at winning the lottery. The seeds of hybrid strains of fruits or vegetables are a game of chance as well, as the seeds may grow plants like one of the crossed plant types or the other, or may contain an undesirable mix of characteristics from both. Seldom will you find a seed that will grow up to resemble its hybrid parent.

Seeds from Your Garden

Basically anything you grow in your garden will produce a seed that you can plant next year. As explained above, you can harvest seeds from within fruit and fruit-type produce. Some plants produce flowers which are seed-bearing, while others use a bit of the root or bulb to propagate.
Peas, beans, and chickpeas are seeds in themselves. When your plants begin to turn yellow and die, leave at least a few pods on the plant. As the plant dries out, the pods will dry out as well, giving you seeds for your next planting.
Onions, carrots, asparagus, spinach, lettuce and most herbs make flowers that produce seeds. Asparagus can also be grown from root crowns.
Corn can be grown from dried kernels. Allow ears to fully ripen on the stalk, remove the ear, and hang upside down to dry. Once dried the kernels can be removed and stored for planting later.
Potatoes can be set aside as "seed" potatoes. When you are ready to plant, cut potatoes into chunks, taking care to leave one or two eyes in each chunk. Allow them to cure a day or two, then pop them into the ground!
Garlic is grown by pulling apart the bulb into separate cloves, and planting the individual cloves in the ground.