Seed saving workshop

The seed-saving workshop given by Annette McFarlane at New Farm library yesterday was two hours well spent. It’s a fascinating subject once you get into the why’s and wherefores of plant reproduction and Annette makes it all so interesting.

She started the workshop by explaining how plants produce their seeds, how they pollinate, the best time to harvest and the best way to germinate. I found this part of the workshop fascinating as she explained the reproductive organs of the plants. Some veggies self pollinate, some pollen is spread by the wind, some need the birds and the bees (takes you back to the schoolroom).

And, did you know that the brassica family are promiscuous! It’s all happening at the bottom of your garden. Wonder why you can find purple cauliflowers on the supermarket shelves? Yes folks. That cauliflower has been generous with it’s favours and cross pollination has taken place. By this time I’m on the edge of my chair.

Time for a cup of tea.

We then spent the second hour washing wet seeds, winnowing dry seeds and getting the hands-on experience in the handling and storage of seeds.

At the end of the session Annette shared a wonderful collection of seeds, cuttings and plants and we all left with a real bounty. This was also an opportunity to take along seeds you had harvested from your own garden to share. My friend Wendy had given me some “Drunken Woman” lettuce seeds a year ago and I had had real success with them. I saved the best specimen  and allowed it to go to seed which gave me a seed-head with (what looked like) hundreds of seeds. I dried them off in the garage and took them along with me yesterday.

I took a few photographs of this lettuce in my allotment last year.

I think it looks even prettier when it’s going to seed. 

Thank you Annette. It was a lovely morning. And thank you Tatiana for organising this workshop.

These workshops are put on in Brisbane libraries by Brisbane City Council and they are free. Brilliant.

Incidentally, I did show my diseased silverbeet/chard leaf to Annette and she told me it was a fungal problem so I’ll be spraying the plants with a natural fungicide and giving them a good dousing of seaweed as a tonic. That will cheer them up.

Happy gardening.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cathyandchucky
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 10:52:45

    That sounds like a brilliant workshop Jean. I’d love to have been there. I remember my grandad and grandma saving the best seeds of vegies and flowering plants and having seed trays always on the go. Australia has to keep doing this. Great post Jean 😀

    Reply

  2. narf77
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 03:49:59

    I KNEW my seed hoarding came from somewhere Pinky! (Cathy 😉 ). I have little plates, trays, bags, recepticles of seeds in various stages of decomposition and “dry” all over the place here. Near the sink I have some particularly tasty Arbutus unedo (Irish Strawberry tree) seeds that I harvested a tonne of when I was at the Beaconsfield library. They were huge and falling off the shrub and no-one else was taking advantage of them aside from the hungry blackbirds. I made sure to leave a lot for the birds and harvested enough to make a jar of jam and keep the best and most juicy for seed. Arbutus grow amazingly well in hot dry conditions. So do Cornus capitata. I have seed for them as well :). I also have various herb seeds and flower seeds collected from our morning walks with the dogs from road verges, hedgerows and dangling nicely over the fence (Hobo’s seed collecting 101 😉 ). I agree with Cathy, I would have LOVED to be there Jean. I might have to send a missive off to the Tamar NRM to have a series of these seed collecting workshops. They have a seed swap once a month but teaching people about collecting seed is only going to result in more seed swappers and a greater selection :). Cheers for another wonderful post Jean 🙂

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Jul 22, 2013 @ 08:11:21

      I am jealous of your seed collection Fran. We were warned at the workshop that it can become an obsession and I fear that I may have caught the bug.
      Remember though. Thrilling through the seed collection is – we actually have to plant them in the ground! Not just sit there gloating on our little envelopes and jars! Lol.
      So I went home and potted some on the balcony, and cleared space at the allotment yesterday for more seed planting.
      Thank you for your kind words about this post.

      Reply

      • narf77
        Jul 22, 2013 @ 15:55:35

        Its too cold to do anything with our seeds at the moment. The poor little things would freeze their tendrils off if I planted them now. All this week we have 3C overnight (heat wave compared to a few weeks ago 😉 ) and frost risks. The frost is officially still hanging around well into October in Tassie so our growing season is reasonably short and we have to take care of the tender little babies and make sure that we don’t throw them out to the wolves (that would be my chooks and the duck 😉 )

      • Allotment adventures with Jean
        Jul 22, 2013 @ 18:41:13

        Sounds like you are still in the grip of winter Fran. Bet you’re glad you have Brunnhilda. Betta hold onto those seeds by the sound of it. Rug up and stay warm.

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