Mother Earth Living

10 Plants for Beginner Seed Savers

Try saving seed from these 10 easy-to-grow, delicious garden veggies.
By William Woys Weaver
September/October 2013
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'Joseph's Coat' Amaranth
Photo By Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

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Try saving seed from these 10 easy-to-grow, delicious garden veggies. For more on saving seeds, read the original article, The Basics of Seed Saving.

1. 'Joseph’s Coat perfecta' amaranth: Edible as raw or cooked greens; loves heat and thrives in poor soil; scatter seed on prepared ground and thin seedlings; has small black seeds in dry flowers; shake over a sieve or colander to save

2. 'Chadwick's Rodan' lettuce: Ideal for small gardens; scatter seed in a row on prepared ground and thin as needed, or plant 6 inches apart for larger leaves; yellow flowers become puff-balls; rub dried blossoms over a sieve or colander and seed falls out

3. 'Mexican Sour Gherkin' cucumber or ‘Sandia de Raton’ (mouse melons): Wonderful, bug-free climbing vines from Central America produce hundreds of tiny cucumbers; great raw or in salsas; when fruit drops, seed is ripe; split open melons, remove seed mass and soak in water for five days until material forms on the top, stirring occasionally; rinse well and dry on a screen in a ventilated room

4. 'Jing Orange' okra: Wonderful Chinese variety with brilliant red stems and pods; start seeds indoors then transplant to garden, spacing about 10 inches apart; pods enlarge and become woody; when they begin to open, remove dry black seeds and store for next season

5. 'Chinese Red Noodle' bean: Loves to climb trellises, poles or fences; prolific with yard-long edible pods; let pods dry on vine until brittle and purple, and save dry peas inside

6. 'Crookneck-Early Golden Summer' squash: Start seedlings in pots, then transplant to garden after last frost; ripe squash turn rock hard; harvest and set in a pantry for a month, then remove seed from soft fruits, wash carefully and dry on a screen

7. 'China Rose' radish: An 1850s heirloom introduced from France (originally from China); plant seeds in a row in prepared ground and thin to at least 1 inch apart (use culled sprouts in salads); white flowers (with a tinge of pink) form green pods; let pods dry then roll them in your hands (wearing gloves) to remove seed

8. Mizuna (Japanese mustard greens): Greens look like shredded grass and are ideal in salads, sandwiches, stir-fries or soups; scatter seed on prepared ground and thin as needed; will overwinter in many parts of the U.S.; yellow flowers form pods; crush dry pods to collect small black seeds

9. 'Chocolate Stripes' tomato: Not old enough to be an heirloom, but already a classic; start seed in pots, plant them out after your last frost, and then stake or cage vines; remove seed from ripe fruits, put in a jar of water to ferment for five days, stirring or shaking each day; strain off water, rinse seed and dry on towels or screens; allow two weeks to dry before storing

10. Wild Card—easy herbs: Try easy cilantro, known as coriander in seed form, or dill; scatter seed on prepared ground in early spring; let flowers bloom and then produce seeds; when seed is dry, harvest and save or scatter on the ground to keep bed growing (in many areas these herbs overwinter, so you can enjoy them almost all year)

All of the above varieties are available from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

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