Whole Larder Love » Grow. Gather. Hunt. Cook.

transition

My garden looks a little bare right now, it’s the unmistakable time of transition. Out with the cool season vegetables and in with summer veg. I’ve been harvesting a good deal from the patch, and much of either now resides in our bellies or is hanging on the old wire clothes line, strung up in bunches to dry and will keep us in store of garlic, shallot and onion for the next little while/until it runs out.

IMG_6561

I’ve had some real success with sweet green peas in abundance and we’ve fed on plenty of crunchy fresh broccoli. These cool season veg and many other varieties, have given us a good run these last few months, but it hasn’t all been rosy. Some veg was a real failure, for some reason they’ve just dogged it in this yard. Onions where slow to grow and rarely did I get a large sized specimen. The parsnips came out both poor in size and disfigured in shape, but saying that they didn’t go to waste. I roasted them and made a spread with cream cheese and chilli. Wow! I must admit, I like turning apparent failures into edible success and that roasted parsnip dip was a winner.

I’ve been extra vigilant in regards to seed collection this year. The process is a steep learning curve for me as I’ve only really collected tomato, garlic, beans and pumpkin seeds in the past. I’m now making more of a concerted effort to be independent in regards to my seed supply, as I may not always be able to buy seeds. I guess I’m preparing myself to be more independent, and thus forcing me to give this seed collecting a real red hot go. I’ll continue to learn techniques and I’ll share seeds with anyone else on a similar path. So far I’ve collected rocket, broccoli, kale, onion, spinach and a bunch of peas that I left on the vine. For most seed collection I’ve simply allowed the basics of biology to occur, the plant is first allowed to flower, the insects pollinate the flower, then seed pods develop which are harvested and allowed to dry by either hanging of cutting off and storing in glass jars unsealed. I hope this method works, as not all of my vegetables are necessarily heirloom and I don’t know if the seeds will be viable. I’m not banking on all of them working, but this is my learning approach, I learn by by doing, sometimes making mistakes, sometimes succeeding, but all I’m really doing is simply taking a chance and seeing what happens.

IMG_6562

The hardest plant to collect seeds from was the pea’s. I really had to restrain myself from picking one last meal from these sweet green beauties, instead I had to allow the pods to go past their edible stage and into their seed curing stage. In the end I’ve ended up with what appears like a tribal necklace of pea’s! I’ve used the same drying technique I use for drying wild mushrooms.

IMG_6565

I used needle and thread (well fishing line more precisely), thread each pea and then I hang the seed in a dry cool place in the old school house. The pods will eventually become dry and quite crisp, which will signify that the pea’s inside are dried completely and then can be removed and stored in a jar in a few months time. Fingers crossed we get a good crop of peas like we did this spring.

Many a delicious pea meal has been enjoyed this spring. This being the last fresh pea meal, a salad with new season spuds (Dutch Cream), pea, home smoked bacon, mint and goats cheese. Simply beautiful.

IMG_6548

There is very much a reminder of ones mortality when seed collecting. Well maybe not for everyone but in my munted mind. The principle purpose of life as a living organism is to pass our genetic information down to the next generation in the hope that what we are as an animal, our traits, our physical build up, our very being somehow remains on earth in some way, shape or form. This is all the vegetables are doing by their flowering and seeding process. It’s very much a case of not managing the vegetables but merely facilitating their genetic longevity. And at the end of one hell of a hectic year, I’m glad to be once again taking part in something so very real and in my mind, worthwhile.

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Pin Post|Email Post|Link Post
  • December 27, 2012 - 4:58 am

    Christina - Great choice in beginning to save seeds! I think you will enjoy the process, not just the saving money, but also selecting and collecting from specimens that do particularly well in your microclimate. In short, you end up, after a few generations, creating sub-varieties that work really well in your garden. It is very fun.

    I know that you write that you learn by doing, but I might suggest some reading as you enter the realm seed saving, just so you can have the best results possible. Here is a free, very helpful PDF that I just want to share with everyone, it is so good: http://www.seedambassadors.org/docs/seedzine4handout.pdf

    The best book on seed saving I know is Seed to Seed, By Suzanne Ashworth. It is a wonderful resource.

    A few important things to note about saving seeds, just from a basic biology point of view: 1) Younger plants have healthier genetic material, so it is best to save seeds from earlier fruits of a plant rather than later fruits; 2) Save seed only from the best fruit; 3) Keep a large enough genetic population to prevent genetic deformities due to inbreeding (population size varies from species to species.) I hope I don’t step in any toes by offering these suggestions.

    I love the looks of your pea “necklace!”ReplyCancel

    • December 27, 2012 - 10:56 am

      Lekud - Hey Christina (via Rohan’s awesome blog); you certainly haven’t stepped on my toes. I love to learn from experience too; but in this day and age I feel that I should try to absorb as much info as I possibly can before the giant corporations make it impossible for us ‘little’ people to do the natural thing. Thankyou for the PDF link I will be checking it out.ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 5:11 am

    Pearl - I applaud your restraint! Barely a broad bean of mine made it so far as the kitchen. I hope you reap the rewards next season!ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 5:23 am

    Miss Piggy - That salad looks incredible! I’m keen to learn how to save seeds – just need to start getting some good heirloom seeds to kick things off with. How do you “dry” your shallots for later use…and do you just use them like a regular shallot later down the track?ReplyCancel

    • December 27, 2012 - 8:36 am

      Dayla - Hello Miss Piggy and Rohan, if I may put in here that I have kept red shallots for some years now and keep the bulbs and replant the leftovers each year. Mine are flowering at the moment but when they die down I will lift them and lay them out in a warm dry place to dry a bit more. I like to plait them into a long garlands when really dry and papery. Looks fabulous and they keep in the house with they start to sprout and then they go back into the ground. I find that 1 bulb will make about 7 new ones. So they are good value.
      DaylaReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 5:53 am

    Priscilla - Hi,enjoyed ur post today,that’s exactly what has been keeping me busy lately.Have had great success with a purple cauliflower I got off green harvest last year ,I’m happy to send you guys some if you like,regards priscillaReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 6:19 am

    :: A Little Reading List | meetmeatmikes - [...] is growing again : Here is mine. Are you on Flickr? If not, join up! A gorgeous Bleubird Christmas! Rohan's delicious pea and potato dish… I have this book and I'm going to make this! Kate Berry's view of [...]ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 6:20 am

    Paul - The Kind Little Blogger - I did write a delightfully thoughtful response to this article but my browser decided to demonstrate that technology is fallible. Here goes, again…

    You’re only getting your summer crop in now? Isn’t it a bit late?

    Thank you for the nice little passage about a plants genetic imperative at the end. As a vegan, I often here the “What about plants?” argument. To which I reply something similar to what you said.ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 10:01 am

    Sue Love - Seed collecting is one of the most satisfying things to do. If it’s too hot outside, it’s a great activity.
    I have broad beans,kale,parsley, lettuce, Chinese greens,silver beet,poppies.
    I am happy to barter!ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 11:12 am

    serendipity2000 - Hi Rohan. I see seed saving as the missing link that complete’s the loop of food independence. In theory, once mastered you’ll never have to buy seed again. What a great place that would be.
    Nice looking pea necklace by the way…crazy looking parsnips!ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 11:57 am

    Daniel - seedsavers.net is also helpful :-) Best of luck! Seed saving is a journey I need to go on as well… once I move and set up a new, permanent garden.ReplyCancel

  • December 28, 2012 - 12:56 am

    Woman on Wild Mountain - I loved this last section so much (about the passing on of genetic information) I reposted that quote on my blog with a link back to you. I hope that is okay. I’m a big fan of your way. Thanks, KerryReplyCancel

  • December 28, 2012 - 11:11 am

    Dave Berlach - Hey man,

    Seed collecting is awesome! I’m starting properly this season too and collected peas, kale, rocket, mustard, coriander, dill and a few others so far.

    Feels kinda satisfying I reckon. What strikes me about seed collecting is the sheer abundance that is built into plants / nature – I mean, it takes only one seed to grow a plant that will produce thousands of more seeds… Why doesn’t it just produce one, or a few just in case?! And it just multiplies by the thousand! Incredible huh? No wonder big agribusiness wants to GM seeds to not produce viable seed – what could be more damaging to their business model than the existing mega abundance inherent in nature?

    I liked your comment about being a facilitator – that’s bang on. All we can do is just provide the best conditions we can for growth and let the plant do its thing.

    Anywho – that’s my two bobs; wishing you a grand start to the New Year amigo – may it be full and fruitful, and a fine example of abundance!

    Peace

    DaveReplyCancel

  • December 28, 2012 - 10:42 pm

    Sue - You have raised a good point with the failures you experienced Ro.
    It is interesting how success in one garden or growing space doesnt necessarily equate to success somewhere else even though you may have treated it just the same.
    Experiencing and observing the ways of your garden and how different crops perform is all part of the learning curve I thinkReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2012 - 3:51 am

    Henry Young - Rohan!

    Thanks so much for the blog I am a huge fan and are gnawing everyone’s ear off to tell them to stop by your blog.

    I bought your book for Xmas for my mother and one for myself, a beautiful publication, thank you.

    I hear that Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall is looking to setup River Cottage in Australia. You would have to be the best candidate in the whole land.

    Please apply for it. It is meant to be!!

    https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/RiverCottageAus

    There is the link get crackin’.

    Thanks for the read.

    HenryReplyCancel

  • January 1, 2013 - 5:01 am

    Lola Nova - My great, great grandmother sewed seeds from her garden into little patches on her clothes when she traveled to America. She planted them in her new garden, some of them flourished and some of them failed. Some of the seeds from the successful plants were passed on, not just to her children, but to neighbors and friends.

    My friends here that grow gardens, we have a yearly tradition of swapping seeds. When I watch my garden grow, I think of the plants as a legacy of my community – “Over there we have Crystal’s Scarlet Beans, next to that are Fidelia’s Tomatillos, and back up against the fence are Mark’s raspberries that he divided and brought over in 2003.” It is a good tradition and every year I learn as I go.ReplyCancel

  • January 5, 2013 - 4:47 am

    McKenzie - Love how you strung the peas. I wonder if they could be left on the vine to dry too? I did that with our beans this year, after you suggested so. Last night I made a killer bean dip. Just soaked them overnight, boiled them, mashed, added raw garlic, rosemary-salt, and olive oil. (I saved some for planting next year too…)ReplyCancel

    • January 5, 2013 - 11:20 am

      Dayla - Hi there, thanks for the bean dip recipe looks great. DaylaReplyCancel

    • January 7, 2013 - 10:42 pm
  • January 6, 2013 - 10:30 am

    Tanya @ Lovely Greens - I’m intrigued over your pea pod saving idea… I’ve honestly never saved pea seeds before but the conventional wisdom seems to always say to uproot the entire plant when it’s going over and hang it in the shed to dry out. Your garland looks far easier to sort out, especially if one decides to pick pods from earlier plants, as another commenter suggested. But how early can you pick a pod to ensure that the seeds, once dried, are viable?ReplyCancel

    • January 7, 2013 - 10:43 pm

      rohan - I don’t know how it works, it just does. Magic!! ;-) ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*