I tend to grow most of my crops from seed rather than buying seedlings. This is partially because I have far greater choice about varieties, partially because I know the plants have been well looked after from day one and partially (or should that be mostly) because I really like watching them grow. What I don’t always do though is save my own seed. This is for a variety of reasons. Some crops take ages to produce seed, others cross too easily with other varieties and so it is too hard to predict what the offspring will be, and with others it is just too intricate a process to bother with. There are exceptions though, there are crops which are particularly easy to save seed from. These are my top 5:
Chillies & Capsicums – Chillies and Capsicums are probably my favourite crops to save seed from. Whilst if you grow more than one variety you are far from guaranteed that they will produce offspring true to type I find they don’t actually cross as often as I think they will and if they do the results are generally interesting. Saving the seed is particularly easy. Simply scrape the seeds out of fully ripe chillies and leave to dry. One of the biggest pluses about peppers is that because you generally eat the fruit fully ripe so there is no waste. Eat the flesh and save the seeds.
Beans – Saving seed from beans is simply a matter of leaving a few pods on the plant until they dry fully. The seeds they produce are perfect for sowing the following year. Whether you continue harvesting green beans from the plants while you are waiting for some to dry or leave all the pods to dry fully to use as dried beans you don’t have a load of unproductive plants sitting around in the garden purely to save seed from.
Curry Leaf Tree – I know this one is a little on the niche side but I do like a plant which saving seeds is simply a matter of pulling them off when they are ripe. You can harvest leaves before, during and after harvesting seeds. Basically the seed saving process is simply about grabbing the seeds as soon as they ripen and planting them pretty much straight away. Curry Leaf Tree seed is generally hard to come by and in my understanding has a fairly short shelf life so saving your own is one of the only ways of propagating the plant from seed.
Lettuce – I tend not to save seed from any plant that will occupy a large space in the garden for a long period while the seed ripens. This rules out collecting seeds from crops like broccoli and silver beet because they are just to big for too long to justify the space. Lettuce though occupies a much smaller space and the seed ripens quicker than many other plants which flower after the finish cropping. Saving seed from lettuce is easy, seed is generally plentiful and given how often I sow lettuces it saves a reasonable amount of money to save my own.
Coriander and Parsley – I was tossing up between these two but given I save both for much the same reasons I thought I would include both. Although I do actually save some seed from both, one of the main reasons I allow the plants to flower and the seed to mature is to allow the plants to self seed. For some reason self seeded seedlings seem to do better than the ones I sow, they are stronger and generally happier in my experience. This is particularly true of herbs I find. Having said that I do actually save and sow seed of both, primarily because although self sown is usually best, nature doesn’t always plant things in the positions I want them. The other bonus is that its nice to have things flowering in the garden. The insects think so too.
They were my top 5. What do you save seed from?