Blog Archives

Saving Tomato Seeds

This fall, one of our Master Gardeners brought in a cluster of tiny, Peruvian cherry tomatoes they had grown from seeds they had been given. I decided to save the seeds to have for later. Here’s what I did.

First, you cut the tomatoes in half across the middle, and squeeze all the seeds and the locular gel out.

I typically add a few tablespoons of water as well. Then you cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot for 10-14 days. The reason for this step is that the seeds are encased in all that gel, and you need to get rid of it.

Unfortunately, I either neglected to take a picture (or have misplaced it) of the next step. This is the part where the top of the seeds are covered in really cool looking fuzzy fungus. If you don’t know that’s supposed to happen, you might freak out and think your seeds are ruined! It’s okay! The fungus is eating up the gel and also chowing down on any pathogenic bacteria or fungi that may have been hanging out in the fruit or on the seeds.

Then you scrape off the fungal goo from the top of the mixture. Next you rinse the seeds and strain out the water.

I used a coffee filter over a mesh screen that we had. You could also use a sieve of some sort.

Most of the gel is gone and the seeds are clean. From there, it is just a matter of spreading the seeds out and letting them dry for a few days. The seed should not feel damp to the touch when you bag it up. Make sure you label the package! Be sure you make sure you store the seeds in a cool, dry location.

 

 

Planting a Buckwheat Cover Crop

Since we harvested the rest of the garlic and shallots last week and we are not going to be planting our next crop until early August, we have a unique opportunity to grow a cover crop in our Demonstration Garden this year!

Cover crops are typically grown for a number of reasons: prevent soil erosion, increase soil nutrients, suppress weeds, improve soil organic matter content, and provide food for beneficial insects. They can also help with soil compaction & drainage, suppress diseases, and break insect cycles. With such an impressive list of benefits, you wonder why we haven’t done it before!

The challenge with cover crops is that they need a certain amount of time to grow, which can interfere with other things you want to grow. In our case, we had a large area that was otherwise going to be empty. Enter the buckwheat!

Buckwheat grows fast, tolerates drought, and can scavenge phosphorus from the soil. It is also excellent as a weed suppressor, and the flowers provide habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects.

The first step was getting the soil moistened in the areas where we wanted to plant the buckwheat. Except for rain, most of those areas hadn’t been watered in a couple weeks while we were drying down the garlic and shallots. As you might imagine, the soil was quite dry! We watered and worked up the soil to ensure even moisture. Then we scattered the buckwheat seed (about 1/4 lb per 100 sq. ft.) and raked it in.

This is the buckwheat seed. It is rather triangular (well, pyramidal) seed that almost seems like it has wings on the edges. It is actually related to rhubarb, and isn’t even a grain (like wheat), but rather a seed (from a nutritional standpoint). We should have some germination by next week or maybe even the end of the week.

Friday PhotoEssay

Another week, another cold snap. It looks like we may be in for that same weather pattern next week. UGH!

Here’s a little bit of spring cheer for you though:

I found this mini iris blooming and couldn’t resist picking one. When I went looking in response center cabinet for a small vase to use, I found this big martini glass. I have no idea what it was doing there, but I couldn’t resist using it for the vase!

Hmm…can you tell it’s been a while since we weeded last? Can you tell which is the shallot and which is the grass? I’ll give you a hint – wide and flat bright green leaves are one and the tubular blue-green leaves are the other!

There, that’s better! Now you can see the new growth coming from the center of the plant. It looks like some of the shoots are going to divide at least one more time.

Yes, this is the same lettuce from last week. It hasn’t grown a lot, but the new leaves are definitely another shade darker. There is a benefit to those random blasts of cold weather!

We are starting some of our basil varieties from seed this year rather than just buying the plants. I was supposed to plant them last week, but with our crazy weather I knew we weren’t going to be ready to put them outside until mid-May. Basil doesn’t grow quite as fast as tomatoes, but almost.

The radishes in the Root Vegetables garden are looking great, but these that we planted in the Kids’ Snack Garden look like they’ve been scorched. Not sure if it was sun or cold or wind, but the seed leaves are goners. Luckily it looks like the true leaves are going to be fine.

This is the third time I’ve tried to show you this picture. I was having trouble getting the bud in focus. This is a flower bud on one of the Red Beard Onions that we planted last fall. I keep expecting the flowers to burst forth, but I think the weather is holding things back.

Have a great weekend!

Parsnips!

Hey, look what I found out in the garden this morning?

Those little, tiny pairs of kinda pointy leaves? Those are the parsnip seedlings! They have survived quite the weather fluctuation so far. (The bigger seedlings with the pink stems are the radishes.) Obviously, with our lovely weather, the radishes aren’t quite as big as we hoped they would be by this time. If we can just stay semi-warmish for a few days, those radishes should really take off! We will have to be careful when it gets around to harvest.

Friday PhotoEssay

Another Friday is here! There is no sign of germination where we planted seeds last week, so I’m beginning to get a little concerned. I haven’t done a great job of keeping the soil moist, but then it was covered with snow for part of the last week. I’m hoping that it is just the cold weather (keeping the soil cold) that is delaying germination of the typically quick-germinating radishes. It is so weird to have a late spring!

Here’s a quiz for you…how doe you tell if what you are seeing is grass or garlic or shallots? This picture isn’t too difficult to distinguish, but when the garlic or shallots are smaller it can be a real challenge! The garlic leaves usually feel thicker and waxier to me than grass, and of course, they smell like garlic too!

The rhubarb crown they planted a couple weeks ago is starting to slooooowly put on some growth. I could be wrong, but I think these leaves look like they got a little more cold than they would have preferred.

Speaking of cold, the lettuce and chard in our cold frame got a little more cold than they would have strictly preferred this week, since we left the cold frame completely open when it got so cold earlier this week. Somewhat surprisingly, they really don’t look that much the worse for wear!

This is the obligatory “before” picture. Rumor has it that we are going to be starting work on this shade garden this week. If nothing else, the compost has to move from the parking lot into the garden, since the farmers’ market is starting a week from tomorrow!

My light stand looks like a forest of plant labels right now! By next Friday I hope it will look like a forest of small tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants!

Have a great weekend!