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September Springmoor Blog from the Landscape Department

Storing Seeds for Future Use

Thom Morgan
Thom Morgan, Springmoor landscape manager

September is unkind to vegetables. By now, your 90-day tomatoes are a withered mess, and the 120-day tomatoes have a few green tomatoes that are struggling to turn red. Eggplants are producing fruit which is one tenth the size of fruit a month ago. Face it, it’s fall, and if you haven’t switched over to fall crops by now, your garden is a pitiful mess.

One thing you can do before you pull up all the stakes and dead vines is collect the seeds.

Storing “Wet” Seeds

Let’s start with the “wet” seeds first such as tomatoes, squash, and peppers.

  • Scrape seeds off plants that were very healthy when producing fruit, and place in a jar of water, and cap off.
  • Allow the seeds to sit for five days, shaking jar a couple of times a day to help separate the seeds.
  • Once the seeds are fully separated and sitting on the bottom of the jar, it’s time to drain the liquid off.
  •  Draining off the liquid should be done outside- preferably by the compost heap since what is in the jar is a fermented, stinky mess.
  •  After the liquid is drained off, place the seeds on some newspaper in the sun, and dry for a couple days.
  •  Scrape seeds into clean jars, cap, and place a label on the jar identifying which type of vegetable, and the date.

I have a lot of success with grape tomatoes, beefstake tomatoes, peppers, and squash using this method. You will want to store the jars in a cool, dry place during the winter. For me, the garage works ok.

Storing “Dry” Seeds

For dry vegetables such as Beans, Peas, and Okra, choose pods from the healthiest plants.

  •  Allow pods to dry out, and crack open.
  • Place seeds in a clean, dry labeled jar, and store in a cool dry place.

Mutations-In some cases, you will not get back the plants you thought you had planted. This is because a lot of plants are hybridized, which means the plant was bred with the good traits of a couple of plants. For instance, I plant a lot of beefstake tomatoes because only a few plants bear the tomatoes worthy of covering a Bacon, Tomato, and Mayonaise sandwich. On the other hand, grape tomatoes always come back and never disappoint.

You won’t save a lot of money saving seeds, but I think it’s an important skill to have.

What’s Blooming at Springmoor

Crape Myrtles, and Rose of Sharon are slowing down, but shrubs such as Abelia, and Butterfly Bush will continue to bloom until frost.

Encore Azaleas will bloom for the second time this year, and bloom just as well as they did last spring.

September Things to Do

September is a good time to aerate, and re-seed your fescue lawn. Make sure you do a soil test to be sure how much lime, and fertilizer you will need to apply.

Apply 10 10 10, or 8 8 8 fertilizer to your Fall vegetable garden if you started one back in August.

White Cabbage butterflies will be trying to lay eggs on your fall crops, so be sure to cover with bird netting- be sure netting is propped up above vegetables so it doesn’t slow vegetable growth.

Plan Ahead for your fall/winter annuals by getting beds cleared, and roto-tilled.

Cover Crop if you have given up gardening for the year, you can sow red top clover, or annual rye as a cover crop. These keep the bare dirt from washing away, and put nitrogen back in the soil. If your garden center doesn’t carry red top clover, or annual rye, use wheat straw as a mulch. Wheat straw will decompose in place, and can be tilled into the soil next spring.