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.
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:
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.
Now you should have 3 piles of vege-related remnants: your food, your seeds and the scraps:
Place your seeds somewhere dry and preferably a little sunny to dry out for a few days.
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.
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.
It’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!