Set your sights on saving seeds this spring

By Lou Bull

Please, we would love more peas …

SD_committee

Photo by Simon Dallinger

Coming across this photo again was a lovely surprise. Taken just over 7 years ago the faces in of our seed saving committee were a little bit different with a couple of familiar ones as well.

I found it while I was looking for some photos of pea flowers to encourage everyone to save some seeds when their peas take on a little spring fling.

We may still be in winter but I always feel spring is lurking around the corner – or is that hoping? The last seed savers gathering was all about the bulk seed store and we found we had good quantities of some seed types but not others. A big gap at the moment in our seed collection is the peas.

Lou’s favorite pea – Climbing Golden Prince.

My favourite pea is Pea – Climbing-Golden Prince. It is a snow pea that produces pink/purple flowers and golden sweet pods. I first came across it through our seed bank and have grown it for most seasons since. We currently have no peas in the seed bank so this spring keeping some pods on the plant to fully mature will be important to share this with everyone.

To save seeds of peas is really easy. The main steps include:

  • Growing one type of pea to minimise cross pollination between other peas (or grow different peas at a good distance apart)
  • Allow as many of the pods to remain on the plant as possible without eating them
  • Let the plants stay in the ground until the pods (and seeds) are filled out and starting to dry off
  • Collect the dried (or drying) pods off the plant and allow them to finish drying and maturing for another week or two (the peas will go brown and hard)
  • Shell and remove the peas from the pods as soon as you can, as pea weevil like your pea seeds too.
  • Once are you confident the peas are dry and hard (test by trying to push your fingernail into the pea – if you can’t it is dry) it is important to freeze them for 24hrs. This will kill off the pea weevil.
  • Remove from the freezer and dry out, then add some to your seed collection and please bring some to the next gathering to share.

This time of year is a good time to consider which plants you will let run to flower and then seed in coming seasons. Pick something you have loved growing and let it flourish and produce seed to share. Look at the seed lists and see if there is something you can target that we are missing.

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