It’s now, as we enter autumn proper, that much of my seed-saving activities peak. This weekend I have completed drying and cleaning the seed from a crop of the loose cabbage Delaway – a Heritage Seed variety – I last saved in 2008. Despite the wet summer I was able to get about 2 ounces of good qaulity seed from nine plants. I was able to shake out most of the seed when I pulled the plants at the beginning of September. I hung the stems up in my potting shed within fleece bags to air and for the last of the seed to full out. Cleaning brassica seed can drive one to drink, but gentle blowing and winnowing works wonders. I have also been able to save a considerable quantity of several pea varieties; Douce Provence, an over-wintering pea that I grew a lot of in a polytunnel. I will be sowing again later in October. Also Robinson, one of my favourite peas, which grows to 2 metres with large, well-filled long pods of delicious peas. I also grew an HSL orphan variety, Tom Thumb, which, as the name suggests, are very sqwat, requiring no support. The crop was not large so I will hold the seed back to grow more next year, this time under cover. I have a number of beans that I have already harvested and dried. Two are from Syria. The first is a delicious bean that is grown primarily to be eaten as an immature bean whole, but the beans are delicious when harvest young too. I have plenty of seed of this now and will put them on my seed swop list which will be updated this winter. I also grew a Syrian fava bean which was not so prolific with small pods containing 3 fat large beans. I will grow these again in a sunnier location next year to multiple and also to eat. I also grew a good crop of my favourite broad bean, Bowlands Beauty. Again, this bean will be available on my seed swap page later. Whilst in Switzerland in May I attended a major vegetable event run by Switzerland’s equivalent to Garden Organic and came away with two local French beans, one dwarf called Brown Swiss and the other a climbing bean whose name I have written down somewhere away from this computer. Both are being grown for seed. Both make good eating as green beans, so I will have some to swap hopefully. They are still growing so we need more dry weather to help ripening. Also I have managed to get a very good crop of Ryder Top of the Pole, a great multi-purpose French bean I will have seed of. I have been growing Borlotto beans for many year and am currently picking them when just ripe, blanching and freezing. However, I fancy growing seed from a fresh source in 2013 as a comparator to my own seed. I have also grown two runner bean varieties in isolation in polytunnels. the first, Jescott Longun is a show bean that can grow to a couiple of feet. The beans are also very fleshy and tasty when eaten young. I should have seed of this to swap this winter. I also was given a French butter bean called Haricot Gros de Soissons. It is a runner bean with short pods that contain fat white butter beans. Sadly the seed guardian sent me seed that was not true as my crop is speckled like most runner beans. This crop will get composted sadly. Isolating runner beans is essential if one is to grow seed that is true.
I am only saving one tomato variety this year, Fox Cherry, another HSL orphan. I have two greenhouses with the crop in isolation. The tomatoes are delicious, sweet and walnut-sized. good crops too. I am sending most of the seed back to the HSL, but will retain some to grow again next year to eat more of! The good thing about saving tomato seed is that once the seeds have been removed the pulp can be turned into passata, soup, sauces, chutneys and pickles. Nothing goes to waste. I will be collecting this seed for at least another month, until the last trusses have ripend. I have also grown some Syrian peppers in isolation but they are slow to ripen so I may not get seed this time. I have been able to save my Ukraine hot, sweet pepper and will have fresh seed again.