5 Easy Seeds Anyone Can Save.

Saving my own seeds was an infatuation that turned true love. I never thought I’d stick it out or find so many plants that have such easy seed saving processes. I truly thought it would be so much work, and it just wasn’t. So I’m now fully obsessed and moving forward, I will always harvest my own seeds. The way seeds form truly fascinates me and I love watching them develop just as much as I do a fruit on the vine. Nothing says sustainability like not having to buy certain seeds from the store ever again.

There are tons of easy to save seeds out there but here’s the ones I started with and continue to save every year. You’ll be wowed at how simple it is and maybe chose a few to start saving yourself.

1. Marigolds

A must have for any garden for the two simple reasons that they provide for pollinators and bring that glorious golden glow to the garden. When the blooms get dry on the plant simply pluck them off and set somewhere to dry.

You’ll get hundreds of seeds per head, trust me you’ll be giving them away you’ll have so many. And you’ll have seeds to plant for years to come. I’ve stored them in paper bags over winter and my germination is always very high.

Marigolds are a wonderful companion plant to just about any fruit/vegetable plant. Currently I have them in my three sisters gardens (corn, beans, pumpkins), with raspberries, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, they grow well just about anywhere.

2. Bachelor Buttons

Another must have. If you’re planting a food garden, flowers are a must. These tall airy plants self seed fantastically and the beneficial bugs love them. Will basically pop up and grow by itself almost anywhere. The flower heads should be left on the plant until they look like the one below.

They get a sort of straw flower feel after they lose their petals when ready, you’ll see the seeds are jammed in under that fluffy center. Be sure to keep an eye out because once they are ready they’ll be dropping seed with any light breeze. So get them off and set aside to finish drying out.

Like marigolds I usually leave the seed heads intact over winter up but you can totally separate the seeds out and store them anyway you’d like. The point is all these seeds are simple to save and store.

3. Basil

This herb is a given. If you garden, you have basil. If you don’t you are missing out friend. From it’s medicinal to culinary uses basil can be used all across the board and the bees will thank you.

Canning tomato sauce? Don’t forget to plant basil with your tomatoes. They love the shade the tomatoes provide and bush out like crazy if you continually harvest. Another self seeder these seeds will pop up anywhere with ample moisture. Keep a close eye once the flowers on the plants dry up since the tiny black seeds scatter easily.

4. Dill

I’ve only recently started growing dill and I’m blown away by the ease of it all. If you’ve ever made homemade pickles you know home grown or at least local dill is the way to go. Plus its gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.

The seeds will form once the flowers die and you’ll be able to pick a beautiful seed head. I remove the seeds and store in seed packets so they take up less space.

5. Chives

These whimsical plants belong in all gardens in my opinion. Their little clumps spread easily and come back every year. Once the purple flowers fade you’ll know they are ready. Inside you’ll find dozens of little black seeds. Simply snap off the heads to collect and save.

The girls and I eat most of our chives while in the garden. They’re a perfect snack with a little spice and pair wonderfully with fresh picked spinach. But let’s be honest, they are best in a salad!

So there you have it. Seed saving isn’t as daunting as it might seem. As a tip, avoid hybrid varieties for seed saving. Sometimes the seeds you harvest won’t be true to the parent plant, so stick to heirlooms to be safe. If you’re feeling extra inspired here’s a few other varieties just as easy to save:

– zinnia

– cilantro

– parsley

– radish

– kale

– mustard

Now get seed saving!

Peace & Love,

Q

Preserving Garden Herbs for Winter. 

Winter is coming. Anyone out there a Game of Throne-ers like us…? Yes? No? Well anyway…. winter is literally just round the corner here in the PNW, we'll not really since it's fire season here and fires are raging not far off. But with all these fresh herbs filling my house and garden I can't bear the idea of not having some around to lift up my stews and season our meals. Oh those long cold days. How wonderful that sounds right about now. So heres just a few ways I'm preserving my herbs:

  1. Drying
  2. Freezing in olive oil
  3. Infusing in olive oil & vinegar
  4. Pesto!
  5. Extracts and tinctures.

So most of you probably know how to dry herbs, but if not here's the short and sweet version. Bundle and tie herbs together and hang upside down, preferably somewhere away from dust and moisture. Once dry remove leaves from stems, crush or leave whole and store in an air tight container.

  • Currently hanging: Greek oregano, chives, lime and Thai basil. Today I plan to put up some pineapple sage to dry also.

  • Finished product: Greek oregano

Note: With all of the following recipes be sure to pick of any bugs and shake off any dirt hanging on so they/it won't end up in your finished product. I also rinsed all my herbs in cold water and patted them dry.

One of the best ways to preserve that fresh taste is to freeze an herb in olive oil. At the time I did this I had an over abundance of basil so that's what I did plus I love the flavor and olive oil is my chosen cooking oil other than the animals fats. So I simply cut up my basil with some herb shears, covered the bottom of my ice cube tray with the cut herbs and poured the oil over to cover.

  • After freezing overnight.

When it comes to infusing oils and vinegars it's as simple as stuffing a jar full of dried or fresh herbs and pouring the liquid over the top. Make sure all the plant matter is covered in the case of olive oil so as to avoid mold. I infused olive oil (any other oils work also; avocado, canola, etc.) with all kinds of basils and oregano. I infused vinegar with the basil also. These will both be used for salad dressings and cooking in the winter. Put them in a dark place to infuse for a couple months. If using fresh herbs you may encounter some cloudiness in your oils due to the water in the leaves. If so just leave off the lid for a day or so (if it's warm out) and the water particles will quickly evaporate. Below are a few of the infusions.

  • Vinegar left and olive oil right.

I don't know about you but I love pesto! And anyway I can get it cheaper than the store is right up my ally. Most of the ingredients are common stock for most kitchens, simply source yourself some pine nuts and you're on your way! I found a few great recipes on Pinterest.
Hint: fresh basil from the garden works best!

  • If you want this to last I suggest doing a double batch in order to freeze some and eat some fresh. As you can see mine is halfway gone… Can you say yum?!

Extracts and tinctures sound harder than they are and some recipes call for a little more measuring than I chose to do. I made it simple like Shaye from The Elliott Homestead with her echinacea tincture. I stuffed my jars full of these herbs and dumped vodka on them. My currents extractions and tinctures consist of echinacea tincture (recipe courtesy of The Elliott Homestead as I stated above) and chocolate mint extract. Very soon I'll be making my own homemade vanilla extract for which I might consult an actual recipe since it seems it needs to be a little more exact. As for the mint and echinacea I did as follows. Prepare clean jars. Clip fresh herbs. Leaves and stems (echinacea also the blossoms). Stuff in jars. Pour vodka completely over foliage so it is entirely submerged. Fasten with air tight lid. Boom.

  • Pow Wow Echinacea
  • Freshly stuffed jar of Echinacea.

  • After a few days the flowers will lose their bright color

  • Chocolate Mint extract

  • I highly suggest labeling everything you extract, tincturize, or infuse. Herbs lose their form and color slightly and it can be hard to tell what's what after a few days. Been there, done that. Labels are you friend!

Well there you have it! Many ways to save those fresh herbs. From freezing over night, drying for a weekish, or waiting those few months to use your yummy garden goodies you'll be set for winter. It's well worth it folks. Make sure you prune your herbs regularly so they stay around longer and don't bolt. Once they do save those seeds folks! Aaaaand don't forget to start more herbs for your fall garden, if you treat them right you may be able to keep them inside for the long haul!

Purple basil anyone?

Peace and Love,
Quincy

SEED STARTING INDOORS

Around my corner of the world starting seeds indoors is a must. Unless you have a green house, in which case, you’re off to a great start. 

But if you don’t have a green house, like me for example… creativity or capital, is a must!

Since I refuse to spend crazy amounts of cash on trays and those little starter pellets (that totally used to be me guys…) I decided to try creativity this season.  

In this case creativity comes in the form of solo cups and some other random dollar store plastic cups. I had some laying around and picked up a few more packs for cheap. 

I normally hate anything plastic but I can recycle these and until I can buy this soil block press, here is how I’m getting creative. 

(I even tried this Pinterest hack in which you use toilet paper rolls as seed blocks, two words… Epic Failure… You can see below how most of them just plain feel apart.. If you want to give this a shot then I suggest buying tp that’s got a reinforced cardboard rolls.)

  

But I’m doing good with the cups and I’m ok with that. 

     
Luckily the homestead husband has an awesome set up of some light hoods perfect for starting seeds. Not that I have always done it like this. Don’t get me wrong starting seeds without lights can and does work great, for most seeds. 

However, for those finicky starts that tend to be on the picky pampered side (tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc), a little light and added warmth makes all the difference. 

For example. Last season I started corn under the lights and it was the first year I’ve ever planted corn, had it grow knee high by 4th of July (to ensure harvest), and proceed to grow 8′ tall! I was astounded when I had tons of silk and cobs, but so to was my horse… Alas she ate them all… I’m sure her belly was full and warm that night. This year she will have no such luck!

My point being that I believe the lights were the key to my success last year. When those corn starts went outside they were stout and hardened off. Ready to for planting. Corn starts in my previous years were lanky and washed out, ending up broken from wind or lack of strength. 

  
(Above: assorted bean starts)

Now that I thoroughly bored you with my corn story… Want to see what else we have started so far?

For convenience I have labeled, in parenthesis, which seed companies I purchased the seeds from. 

SSE= Seed Savers Exchange

 MTG= Mike the Gardener

TSC= Territorial Seed Company

  • Tomatoes: Amish Paste(SSE), German Pink(SSE), Homestead(MTG), Large Cherry(MTG)
  • Cucumber: White Wonder(MTG), A&C Pickling(SSE)
  • Beans: Cherokee Wax(Ferry Morse), Dragons Tongue(SSE), Calypso(SSE), Black Turtle(Ferry Morse)
  • Sunflowers: Lemon Queen(SSE), Velvet Queen(SSE), Taiyo(SSE) 
  • Peas: Amish Snap(SSE)
  • Pumpkin: Small Sugar(TSC)
  • Radish: Cherry Belle(TSC)–direct sow (4/15)
  • Turnip: Shogoin (MTG)–direct sow (4/15)
  • Cabbage: Savoy(MTG)
  • Kale: Dwarf Green Curled(TSC)
  • Corn: Smoke Signals(SSE), Golden Bantam Improved(SSE)
  • Lettuce: Red Iceberg(TSC) 
  • Peppers: Early Jalapeño(TSC), Purple Beauty(MTG) 
  • Squash: Black Beauty Zucchini(SSE) 

It may seem like quite a lot but this is only the beginning. I am going all in this year and I’m extremely motivated to provide as much food for my family as possible. I’m dreaming of shelves full of canned goods and cold storage packed with roots vegetables. 

  

 (Above: assorted sunflower starts… Because their are my favorite… And they do fantastic in my living room window, so I never have to miss out on their beauty!)

Who knows, if I’m satisfied with my gardens production this summer I may put a chicken garden into the works. Wouldn’t it be stellar to have a garden space specially for spoiling our flock of little dinos?

Yes, I totally said stellar. 

Getting to getting outside. Get to work!

Quincy