Posts Tagged ‘pepper’

How to Save Seeds from Beans, Peppers, Onions and More

August 28th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

You’ve sown it, grown it and harvested it. But how can you take your vegetable growing one step further?

Easy: by saving your own seed from this year’s crops to sow next season.

When you come to think about it, saving seed is the ultimate in self-sufficiency; it’ll save you money and closes the loop on your growing but, above all, it’s delightfully satisfying.

Read on or watch the video to find out how to save those seeds.

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What to save

Some vegetables are easier to save seed from than others. Especially suitable candidates include peas and beans, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce, which can all be saved at the same time they are harvested or very soon afterwards.

Some biennial crops, such as onions, shallots, leeks, carrots, beetroot and chard are also worth saving, though you’ll need to overwinter a few plants from one season to flower and set seed the next.

What not to save

Avoid saving seeds from the cabbage family. These plants readily cross-pollinate with other members of the same family, so you’re unlikely to get what you hoped for.

The same goes for F1 hybrid which, because they are created from two separate parent varieties, simply won’t come true to type. For this reason, only ever save the seeds of traditional, open-pollinated varieties. F1 hybrids should include ‘F1’ in the variety name on the seed packet.

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Saving bean and pea seeds

Peas and beans are the easiest of the lot. As the end of the season approaches leave some pods to dry out on the plants. You’ll be able to see and feel the beans swelling within their pods. They’re ready to pick and collect when the pods themselves turn leathery or crisp to the touch.

You can get a lot of seeds from just a few plants, which makes saving these seeds very worthwhile indeed. Shell the pods to reveal the beans or peas inside, then discard any very small, misshapen or damaged seeds. Save only the best clean seeds. Spread them out onto newspaper to dry out on a warm windowsill for 7-10 days.

Fava beans, or broad beans, can cross-pollinate with other varieties, so only save seeds from these beans if you are growing just one variety.

Saving lettuce seeds

Lettuces produce literally thousands of seeds on each seed head. You may find you need to stake the plants as they stretch out to flower.

Once the plant displays its fluffy seed heads, pull it out of the ground and hang it upside down indoors to dry. After a few weeks like this the seed heads can be rubbed between the palms of your hands to coax the seeds free.

As with any vegetable, it’s important to choose the very best plants to collect seed from. This way you will actively select for those plants that perform the strongest and are best suited to the conditions in your garden.

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Saving pepper and tomato seeds

The seeds of tomatoes and peppers are ready when the fruits themselves are good for eating.

Wait until sweet peppers and chillies show their mature colour, then simply scrape away the seeds from the pith. Spread the seeds out on paper to dry out for a week or more before storing.

Before drying and storing tomato seeds, the pulp around them must first be removed. This isn’t difficult, but there is a specific process to do this correctly. See more on our blog for tips on how to do this.

Saving onion and leek seeds

Onions, leeks and shallots set seed in their second year. These plants cross-pollinate, so you’ll need to overwinter more than one plant of the same variety to flower the following season. The flowers are beautiful though, and provide welcome food for local bees and other pollinators.

The seed heads are ready once they have dried out and can be flaked off into a bag for cleaning and sorting. But if you need the space, you can hurry things along by cutting the heads a little earlier. First, check the seeds are ready by opening up a seed pod to observe the seeds inside. If the seeds are black, then you’re good to go.

Leave the seed heads to dry out in a warm, well-ventilated place, such as a greenhouse. Once they’ve turned a straw colour, simply rub the seed heads between your fingers to release the seeds.

How to store saved seeds

Dry seeds can be cleaned before storing by carefully blowing away any remaining chaff, or separating out the seeds through a series of screens or sieves.

Seeds should be stored in paper envelopes labelled with the variety and date.

Store them somewhere cool, dry and dark until you’re ready to sow in spring.

If you have any top tips for saving seeds, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Nation of Gardeners results: Pepper Snackbite Mixed F1

March 3rd, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Pepper Snackbite Mixed F1Snackbite Mixed F1 is a pepper that grows as compact plants producing sweet fruits which are perfect for ‘snacking’ on as they contain very few seeds.   This pepper can be grown in large pots and placed in a sheltered patio area.

Our Nation of Gardeners were asked to sow Snackbite Mixed F1 in January 2014.   The gardeners were asked to record details such as when the first pepper was picked from date of sowing, number of peppers over the season, size of plant etc.  to check for any variations around the country.

The table below charts their progress.

Location Elevation Date planted Date first signs of growth Notes
Cheshire 49m 26 January 3 February The peppers showed 100% germination. 10 seedlings from 10 seeds. King of the North was the quickest to germinate but after a couple of weeks both look exactly the same.
Renfrewshire 28m 18 January 23 February Pot placed on heated propagator mat.  4 out 5 seeds germinated.  As of 23/2/14 seedlings around 1.5 inches tall so transplanted to individual 7cm pots
North Devon 30-50m 22 January 6 February Sown on South East facing windowsill – no added heat source.  17/02 still only 2 seedlings showing.  24/02 3rd seedling showing, placed onto radiator for evening warmth and windowsill by day.  14/3/14 – potted onto larger pot for fresh compost and more growth – still slow but steady growth
Worcestershire 55m 27 January 19 February Sown in unheated windowsill propagator on East facing windowsill.  2 seedlings appeared by 19/2
Derbyshire 39m
Cumbria 90m
Ceredigion 131m 17 January 9 February Sown outside at 13C in caravan. Very slow to start.
Bristol 55m 30 January 7 February Sown in south facing room.
Suffolk 6m 21 January 28 January Pricked out 1 March.
Hertfordshire 150m 19 January 9 March Sown into West facing room.
Surrey 58m 26 January 2 February Sown into soil at 17c, room 16c. 20 February: 10 seedlings healthy and strong. 23 February: transplanted to larger pots
Pontypridd 157m 27 January 3 February 100% germination.  23 February: transplanted before true leaves formed as were getting leggy.
Buckinghamshire 66m 22 January 27 January Sown into West facing room. 4 out of 5 germinated.
Guildford 56m 28 January Sown on window sill in utility room. Slow to germinate but once appeared are very strong. KOTN quickest but both at the same stage by 4 March. 5 out of 6 germinated
Gloucestershire 74m 13 January Sown on south facing windowsill
Moray Elected not to sow
Derbyshire 241m 19 January 25 January Sown into South facing room in heated propagator. Looking strong.  100% germination. 8 March: potted on into individual pots. 2 true leaves showing.  21 March: 4 true leaves showing. 22 April: all strong and approximately 4 inches high