Seed Saving on Allotments

This is the first year we’re trying to save our own seed. And I’ll be honest – so far, we’ve been totally rubbish at it!

What we were going to save:

Broad beans
Runner beans
French beans
Borlotti beans

What we’ve actually managed to harvest seed from so far:

Runner beans

The runner beans are gorgeous as they dry and the rocket went to seed so fast that we only got two meals from it, so there was no problem harvesting seed from that crop! The tomato seed has already been tucked away in envelopes for next year – we are very happy with our greenhouse tomato crop which is still harvesting well.

The broad beans were a total seed-harvest fail. On 235 we planned to harvest, but the pods we were leaving got picked (that’s the risk of co-working) and on 201 the crop, which wasn’t overwintered, was destroyed by blackfly, so there was barely enough of a crop to eat a meal from, let alone leave to set pods for harvesting.

French beans – we’ve left some pods to get big – we’ll see if we are actually organised enough to do the harvesting bit in a week or so.

Borlotti beans – we’re leaving these to dry on the vine, so some will just be used for food and others for sowing next year … that’s the theory anyway!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, September 19, 2009


Blogger Z said...

I'm glad it's not just me who is rubbish at saving seed. Tomatoes are best as you can just save the last few fruits that you didn't get around to picking. The seeds are so tough that they survive freezing temperatures.

I do pinch out broad bean tops against blackfly, largely because I enjoy eating the tops, but I find after many years of organic gardening that I've so many ladybirds that any plants that get infested are cleaned up in no time. I had a nasty attack of aphids on the globe artichokes, but they had all been eaten a few days later.

September 20, 2009 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

I like the idea of taking seeds, and certainly do it with the broad beans and garlic. I've got a spinach plant and brussel sprout gone to seed currently, but I'm not too sure on how to collect the seed on those: I guess I just wait until the seeds are ready to drop, or spread themselves, then cut them and keep in a dry, dark place. (I pick my broad bean pods and let them dry in the sun for up to a month).

I wonder though, it you keep taking seeds from the 'same' crop year after year, if you get some type of genetic decline over time? Loss of vigour, or some such. (I have no idea, it's just a notion I have).

September 21, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Z - I think most people with a creative spirit are bad at seed saving (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!) so perhaps it's our nature not to plan ahead so much.

Our allotment is not over-endowed with ladybirds. I'm thinking of buying a starter pack to rebalance the eco-system.

Mark, it's a good question and partly depends on the degree to which you get cross-pollination - because every seed, is itself, likely to vary from its parent at some point on the genome and if you're getting outside pollination from insects, for example, I wouldn't have thought it would be a problem. However, if you have greenhouse crops then I'd imagine that over a lot of generations you might get some recessive genes that weren't particularly good for your crop emerging.

September 28, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the runner beans, did you protect them from cross pollination, or did you allow them to cross pollinate with other beans on the allotment?

I was planning on saving my runner bean seeds this year, but when it came to planting, the only space I had left was on the allotment.

I won't be saving the seeds because they will cross pollinate with runner beans on other plots and won't be true to type.

If you did segregate them, I'd be interested to know how you did it because they're such big plants.

July 22, 2010 at 5:50 PM  

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