Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gone to seed!

We have been gardening for a few years and one of the new things we are learning this year is how to collect our own seeds.  I thought this would be much harder than it has been. 

Dried okra pod and seeds
Last year, my daughter collected seeds from the dried out pods on my mom's okra bushes.  She loved that when you shook the pods they rattled and was even more excited when she brokethem open and found seeds.  We pulled out the seeds
Our new okra plants
and planted them
wondering if they would
really grow.  We've heard a lot about buying only heirloom seeds because the others would not produce seeds to grow new plants.  Well...  the verdict is in!  They grew!  Hooray!  We are going to have to thin them out, so many grew! 

Flowering lettuce plant with puffs
Separating seeds from other plant matter
We have also been saving seeds off of our lettuce.  Did you know lettuce flowers?  I didn't.  But it does.  It flowers and then it puffs!  Kind of like dandelions.  It also has a milky white, sticky substance that comes off of it when you touch it to take the puffs off.  We've also found that the flowers blossom in the morning.  We usually go out in the afternoon and look at our garden, but this morning we decided to go out in the morning.  We were greeted with hundreds of little yellow flowers.  To collect the seeds, you just cut off the puffs.  Then you squeeze it and little black seeds come out.  We were most successful separating the seeds and the other plant parts on a piece of paper.  It took a little while, but it is exciting to think about planting them next season.

Oh, this is spinach!
We were next going to collect spinach seeds.  We thought the other bush with similar yellow flowers was spinach.  WE WERE WRONG!  Can't help but laugh at myself about that.  I just thought they were similar plants and another plant that was growing was a different kind of lettuce.  Well, as we looked up how to harvest spinach seeds, we realized that the other plant was the spinach.  It looks totally different.  We also have to wait for it to die before harvesting the seeds.  So I will share more about that when the time comes.

Next year we will plant more
Carrot flowers take 2 years to grow and seed
One more seed we learned about were carrot seeds.   Carrot seeds take 2 years to grow.  Yes, you have to leave the plant in for two years before being able to get seeds from it.  Carrots grow flowers too.  We also learned
that the tops of the carrots should poke out of the soil when they are ready to pick.  We picked anyway and got smaller carrots, but they tasted good.  The ones that did look big enough got
eaten by roly polies (pill bugs).  We were sad.
Picking carrots
Roly polies ate our best ones!

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