Raising sustainable kids.....saving seeds

Our Biome Blogger Julie has explored seed saving with her children with fabulous results. Dedicated to raising children sustainably, Julie is happy to share her family adventures with us. I have three small children and over the past few years I've been working on and in our little veggie patch. Like us all, I love the thought of growing things in our own backyard and knowing exactly what goes into our food. So far I've tried to grow things mainly from seed, as it gives me more choice of what to grow and the certainty of where things come from. Whilst purchasing most of my seeds from trusted sources, I have also collected a few seeds here and there and wonderfully, have managed to grow a couple of things from those seeds. Recently I decided to collect more seeds, this time with my children. We had a lot of fun and the children learned a lot of new skills too. Here's some of the steps we took to prepare some seeds for next summer's garden. I thoroughly recommend it.

Firstly, find your favourites.

Together we picked out some fruits and veggies that we wanted to try to grow. I asked each of my kids to pick one of their favourite fruits or veggies. I was working on the theory that if they enjoyed eating the fruit or vegetables, they would enjoy growing it and look forward to the final harvest. We choose pawpaw, pumpkin and tomatoes. We are big lovers of pumpkin soup in our family; pawpaw trees usually give plenty of fruit for little effort; and tomatoes are super easy to grow. We are definitely feeling confident with our choices.

And then we got squishy!

After picking fruits from our selected plants, we left them for a few days until they were extra ripe. Allowing the fruit to be extra ripe before you save the seed gives the seed more time to mature and gain extra nutrients. This not only increases the chance of seed storage going well, but also increases the chances of successful planting and growing a healthy fruit or vegetable plant. If you are picking the plants from your garden, it would be advisable to leave the plant growing until it is extra ripe before picking it. Once our produce was extra ripe, we got squishy and extracted the seeds. The kids really enjoyed this part!

Washing and drying the seeds.

After cleaning ourselves up… we cleaned up our seeds. We placed them into a fine strainer and held them under running water. We then picked off all the extra bits and left the seeds on the window sill to dry. Seeds need to be extra dry before you store them, so we left them for a few days.

We sorted, stored and labelled our seeds.

The kids had fun counting all their seeds and we made little envelopes to store them in. We placed them into reusable plastic bags first, to ensure moisture was kept out and our seeds would stay dry. We then placed these bags into our handmade storage envelopes which we clearly labelled with the name of the seed and the date they were stored. Next our envelopes were placed into mason jars and onto a shelf in a cool dry place.   Collecting and storing seeds is a great way to teach kids about the environment: where our food should come from and how to take care of our future. My kids love our little garden and enjoy running around it looking at the different plants that grow. They often pick the ripe produce. We had great family fun collecting our seeds together. I am looking forward to planting out these seeds with them and teaching them about the next stage of the life cycle. I also love that over time, the seeds we collect could become a variety that you just can't buy. Affected by our surroundings and environmental conditions, each year our seeds will become more unique and best suited for our garden. What a fantastic added bonus! Julie

Further reading

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/beginners-guide-seed-saving http://www.finegardening.com/collecting-and-storing-seeds http://permaculturenews.org/2015/10/12/how-to-harvest-your-own-seeds-from-fruit-and-vegetables-for-propagation-into-nursery/
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