This undated photo shows seed being saved from a tomato in New Paltz, N.Y. Cutting a tomato in half and squeezing the seeds into a glass or a jar is the first step to having your home-grown seeds for next year's tomatoes. (Lee Reich via AP)

A Gardener’s Diary: Gathering seeds for next season

Gardening columnist recommends collecting seeds from best performing plants

A Gardener’s Diary

Jocelyne Sewell

I can see the difference in the day length, especially at night. I would like to see a difference in the day’s temperature. We had a couple cooler nights but this didn’t last very long.

My cherry tomatoes are not affected by the blossom end rot as my other tomatoes. From the few phone calls I received, I am not the only one with this problem. Blossom end rot is not a disease but a physiological problem. I find the worst ones are the paste tomatoes. If the rot is not too bad, I cut it off and still use the rest.

Most of the time, it is caused by a calcium imbalance due to improper watering. June was cold and wet and then we got a lot of heat. It can also be caused by feeding your plants with too much nitrogen. I put crushed eggshells in the whole but from what I read, it takes too long to break down so it is not that effective. Just hope that next year will be better.

I don’t like all the heat we are having but I use it to my advantage. I have been drying fruit leather in the greenhouse in less than 24 hours and by leaving it in there overnight. Right now I am drying plums. I quarter them and lay them on my dehydrator trays and just put them on the shelves in the greenhouse. Another day or so and I will start with tomato slices. The cherry tomatoes work very well with this method and when dried, they are like candies. Sweet pepper also are excellent dried. If the nights turn too cold, I will bring the trays in the house overnight.

This is the time to harvest seeds from plants that you want to propagate in your garden next year. I have seeds now from arugula, lots of flowers and this week, the different varieties of lettuce are ready for drying. . There is much involved in saving seeds properly and it begins by selecting the right plant. The first thing to know about seed saving is that not every plant in your garden will grow well from seed. Some hybrid varieties will not produce viable seeds. The term “come true” means that the seedling plant has the same characteristics as the parent plant. These are the open-pollinated plants.

If you’ve decided to collect seeds from your own garden plants, you’ll want to observe the plants throughout the growing season and select the best performers so that their genes will be passed on through the seed to the next generation. By continuing to select the best plants each year, you will eventually end up with a seed strain that is well adapted to your climate and conditions, that has the best flower or fruit or leaf colour and that is pest and disease resistant.

Heirlooms are generally open-pollinated varieties that were introduced over 50 years ago but are no longer commercially available (although some seed catalogues have now begun to offer them, due to popular demand). These plant varieties were kept from extinction by people who faithfully saved the seeds and grew the plants year after year (protecting them from cross-pollination to make sure the strain remained pure).

For more information you can call 250-558-4556, or email jocelynesewell@gmail.com.

READ MORE: Sweet potatoes and yams have their differences

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