save your seeds!

Recently I had a realisation. It was one of those realisations so obvious that I felt embarrassed for not realising it was a possibility.

REALISATION: I can grow vegetables from the seeds of the stuff I buy at the grocer’s.

That’s right, I hadn’t connected the dots up and was buying seeds from nurserys and at the same time ruing how expensive it was to buy yellow tomatoes. I’d bought these gorgeous little pear shaped yellow tomatoes that were delicious but had paid something like $5 for a punnet of them. I was loudly complaining about how I wished they were:

1) more widely available

2) cheaper to get hold of.

I was hit smack between the eyes by a sudden and astounding thought. What if I took the seeds out of these tomatoes, dried them out and planted them when tomato season came around? I did that. The following year we grew a crop of our own yellow tomatoes for the price of a bag of potting mix. My friends Luke and Corinne said they had a similar epiphany. They dutifully bought pumpkin seeds, planted them into their garden beds, turned compost through the soil and then discovered that their compost was growing more pumpkins their original vegetable garden. So… they didn’t actually have to buy the seeds in the first place beacuse the seeds were already in the compost. Genius…

In this day and age we’ve often tried to breed the seed producing nature of vegetables/fruit of them (see seedless grapes, watermelon, oranges etc) because we don’t like the “bits”. However, it only then occurred to me that we were also ensuring that people were therefore unable to propagate their favourite produce themselves out of the seeds.

There are so many great things about growing in this way, not the least of which is that you get to TRY BEFORE YOU GROW. Imagine inveting energy and time growing some seedlings to full plants only to discover that you don’t like the taste of the fruit produced. Annoying. This way, though, you know if you like the produce or not because it’s coming directly from the food you’ve already eaten.

So, here’s a really simple how to guide with some pictures of me saving the seeds from a spaghetti squash I bought recently. I mainly bought the spaghetti squash because I had never heard of it before and kind of couldn’t believe it was an actual and real thing. Turns out: they’re delicious. Located somewhere on the taste/texture spectrum between a gem squash, a pumpkin and a zucchini, I tried some cooking invention and discovered they make great fritters. Or to be more specific, in this case: haloumi and spaghetti squash fritters. Yeah, diabolically yummers.

Step one:

Remove the bits of the fruit/vegetable that you’re going to eat… deal with these as you see fit, I’d suggest eating them OR cooking them, then eating them. You’ll be left with a chopping board of vegetable/fruit scraps that might resemble this:

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Step two:

Disentangle the whole seeds (the ones you’ve accidentally chopped in half won’t work) from the rest of the fruit/vegetable entrails. Try to remove all the liquidy, fleshy bits from the pips. Place them on a plate or on something else flat and dry where you can spread them out so they aren’t touching one another.

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Now you should have 3 piles of vege-related remnants: your food, your seeds and the scraps:

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Step three:

Place your seeds somewhere dry and preferably a little sunny to dry out for a few days.

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Step four:

Dispose of your scraps in a way that is sustainable, eg feed the fleshy bits surrounding your pips to the chickens or dig it into your garden as compost.

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Step five:

In two to three days when the seeds are entirely dried, place them into a labelled paper bag for safe keeping until the right season for planting that fruit/veg rolls around. Place in a safe, dry, out of the way place with your other collected seeds.

seeds in a paper bag

IMGP1791It’s a good idea when you do this to put a reminder somewhere (on your calender or in your phone) for when those seeds need to be planted during the year, otherwise you might forget that you saved them!

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5 thoughts on “save your seeds!

  1. I had been reading about spaghetti squash here, there and everywhere since I switched to paleo, but had been unable find it in any local shops. I was curtly advised by one woman that, if she hadn’t heard of it, it didn’t exist, because she had been in the veg biz for decades. Decades, I tell you.

    Then we went to the US, and the things were everywhere! FINALLY, I was able to make paleo ‘spagbol’, and behold, it was good.

    So, when we got back, I started the search again. I also contacted the people who deliver my weekly veg box and they said, “Oh yes, we grow it, but it will only be ready in November.” This is deeply saddening. However, I have now taken to using my magic julienne implement on zucchini to make ‘pasta’ and it works almost as well.

  2. I used to eat spaghetti squash a lot when I was a kid. It’s becoming more widely available, I’ve seen it for sale in several places – they even sell it in Harris Farm Markets when it’s in season.

    Growing things from the seeds of your food is a great thing to do. Tomatoes and pumpkins are the easiest to do, they generally sprout up in my compost heap without any effort from me. I generally leave the pumpkins growing in the compost heap (last year we got 2 huge pumpkins with pretty much no effort from me) and transplant the tomatoes into the vegie garden when they’re big enough. Last spring I transplanted 16 tomato plants into my vegie garden from the compost and we’re still getting tomatoes from them.

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