Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saving Seeds from Bi-Annuals

Saving seeds from plants that only flower every two years is not the same as saving seeds from squash, tomatoes, or peppers. First, it is a long wait! Second, lots can go wrong in two years! So, I always feel fortunate when one of these plants flowers. It means the seeds are not far away!

I have two plants this year that are in flower, a carrot and onion. I planted this carrot in a batch in the Fall of 2011. Somehow it got outside of the raised bed and got stuck between the raised bed and the the neighbor's fence. I tried to dig it out in January of 2012 when I harvested the rest of the carrots but it would not budge! (The space between the raised bed and the fence is about two inches so I didn't have a lot of room to dig!) Anyway, I left it there. Last summer the top got a bit bigger with some additional leaves. It stayed that way until about three weeks ago. I noticed the leaves making stems and getting taller. It was at about 18 inches then.  Since I was busy with work, I hadn't been outside to monitor it, until a few days ago. WOW! The greens on the carrot are almost as tall as me! It has beautiful flowers - here is a picture.

The picture is a bit dark because I took it at 9:00 p.m. without a flash. The tallest flower comes up to my chin! I can't wait to gather these seeds!

I am also anticipating gathering seeds from onions. I grew this onion from seed three years ago. It wasn't big enough to eat last year so I decided to save it for seeds. It overwintered in my kitchen pantry in a paper bag. I planted it this year in mid-March. This picture was also taken at 9:00 pm so it is a bit dark as well.

Can you imagine not having fresh seeds available at the store every year? Even though I don't purchase seeds every year, I am glad they are there in case something happens to my plants. Here in the 21st century,  I have the ability to start over with fresh seeds should something go wrong. Think of your great-grandparents, if they wanted seeds, they had to save them from plants they grew themselves. Seeds were expensive to purchase, if they were available at all. If your seed crop failed, you didn't get any! I am sure it was complete disappointment when the plants they were depending on died before they got to harvest seeds.

I can state this with certainty because I was also attempting to save seeds from parsley. The plant looked beautiful about a month ago - the flowers were just about to bloom. Today it is dead! No seeds from parsley this year!  The plant didn't die a natural death, it had help! All the new parsley I planted this year are now dead too!! I found them all yesterday. I grew them all from seeds, so I was very disappointed. 

However, as Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day!" So, off I shall go - to the store to purchase some new parsley plants!

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