Now is the time to grab free seeds for next year's crop!
If like me, you may well have found yourself getting into the whole grow your own food concept while in lockdown. Many people have this year as a way to kill some time, keep busy, and try to become more self-sufficient in feeding the family.
My main reasoning for taking up this new hobby was, of course, to keep myself busy, but I most certainly started to look at self-sustainability; the supermarket shelves were empty in many categories, I mean you couldn't get eggs, flour, bread, yeast, paracetamol, anti-bac soap and even toilet roll, for weeks and weeks, and you faced long lines at the supermarket doors to even get into the stores, or incredibly long wait times if you needed to have your groceries delivered, and with nobody knowing how much worse it was going to get, it seemed like the ideal time to see what food we could produce ourselves, even with a small-sized garden, right in the middle of a large town, which you most certainly wouldn't class as an area you expected to find gardens full of fruit and vegetables growing, or if growing plants, it probably
wasn't going to be plants that were legal!
So like thousands of other people, I invested in a load of mail-order vegetable seeds and compost, which took forever to arrive as the suppliers were slammed with orders, at a time when social distancing meant they couldn't have as many people in the warehouses dispatching orders. The couriers were dealing with a number of parcels going into the network, which exceeded numbers seen at Christmas but without all the temporary drivers that made the deliveries arrive on time... It was a nightmare for everyone!
I built wooden planters out of old pallets, used a load of compost and finally got planting. I'm pleased to say that the result has been a glut of veggies, such as courgette, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, potatoes, herbs and sweetcorn, to name a few. I've produced veggie just planted a load of Autumn veggies, which I'm hoping will keep us topped up with fresh veggies over the winter months, and I will put up a separate post on this at a later date.
Ok, so I've waffled on a bit, but now to the main point of this post, seeds.... I've realised that my veggies won't just feed us this year, but can feed us next year too... by harvesting the seeds!
Veg such as beans have a load of seeds right in the middle... they taste good, of course, but they are seeds, after all, and these can be planted out next year and should produce a brand new crop, at zero cost!
The seeds can just be taken out of the seed pod and stored till next year. Ideally, you would allow the veg to dry out on the vine before harvesting the seeds, but this is the UK, and chances are they will get wet and so dry seed pods will be unlikely unless you have the plants undercover. So the way around this is to remove the seeds carefully and then dry them in your house, shed greenhouse or garage until they have dried out and are no longer soft. Remember that vermin like seeds too, so try and put them somewhere to dry that will be safe from pests... it can take a few weeks, so bear that in mind!
Once dry, remove any beans that look like they may not be of high quality and then store them in an airtight container as you find to avoid moisture getting to them. If you have any silica sachets that often come in boxes of shoes etc., then pop one of those in with the seeds, as that will help prevent moisture from getting to the seeds.
And that's it! Use these homemade seeds next year when planting, and you will save on the cost of seeds and have another crop of homegrown veggies to enjoy, and of course, save you money on buying veg; it's a win-win situation!
Don't have any homegrown veg this year? No worries, keep back some seeds from the veg you have bought at the supermarket and use the same process, and then next year you can benefit from growing veg at home as well! You don't need loads of room; you can grow veg from just a single pot on a balcony or window sill and can enjoy fresh veggies all year if you plan it right!
Drying sweetcorn ready for harvesting the kernels to use as seeds next year