Thursday, December 10, 2015

Saving Seed and Tomatoes in the House

I canned pumpkins this past week and now can put a mental check on that project. I'm drying a few seeds to try sprouting next year. As a back up plan I will make sure I also sprout some from someone who knows what they are doing, a seed company. Mine are from the largest pumpkins. The ones that developed before the Buttercup squash came on. Sugar Pie pumpkins and Buttercup squash get all kissy kissy I've heard though I have yet to see it. The books say they are from the same family and will cross.

That means I have to figure out a rotating plan to grow certain kinds of pumpkins and squash in rotating years so I can save seed or force abstinence upon a few. You know where you tie up the blossoms just before they make their maiden flight, I mean open up. Then plan an arrange marriage and pollinate them with the chosen groom whom is also tied up until the wedding. Then tie them both up again so they can't change their minds. I have been going to be a wedding planner for several summers now but it just has not gotten done. That is why I want to try the rotation plan. Maybe I just am not cut out to be a wedding planner. Desire keeps getting booted out the door when other people's problems push their way in. And I must admit, I have trepid thoughts though why killing off a few blossoms with my bumbling ways would be such a crime is beyond me.   

Saving seed is one of my top priorities this year so life had better get out of the way. I am right now attempting to sprout seeds I saved from my miniature tomato plants I grew last spring in the sun room. The tomatoes that grew to over 20 inches tall instead of staying the miniature 12 inches the catalogue promised me they would be. The one that the top was accidentally broke off did indeed make around 12 inches tall so that is the plan for these new ones, whack off the tops if they even hint of aspiring to greater heights because there is just too much plant for the number of tomatoes formed. Whacked looked so cute and had more tomatoes per plant formation than the others so I quickly quit feeling sorry for it.  

Most of the house tomato plants have been thrown out into the field but I have the three Goldilocks candidates remaining: too tall,  down to a stub, and the one plant which has one of its limbs just hanging on by a few plant strands. Yes the spring tomato plants were sorely neglected over the summer.

I had quit watering Stemmy, yes I gave him a name, (Or is it a her since there are babies but then there has to be a he too doesn't there?). Oh well, IT was going to be thrown out and then IT grew leaves on the stems. My brain whirled and Stemmy got a second chance at life yesterday. If IT does not blow it and creates a new productive plant from the stubby beginnings, then that will be a new discovery for me. To start tomato plants anew after cutting them down to just stubs makes sense that this would be a much faster way to grow a new plant. From seed takes forever to just grow a good root base. Stemmy has the root base established and should therefore take off more quickly. Will he or is it she grow into fruition?  Time will tell.

The plant with one of its branches that was just hanging on by a few plant strands just kept hanging in there, literally.  Weeks went by and still it hung on with no sign of wilting leaves except when I forgot to water it. Probably stayed alive I figure because I've learned that plants go into kind of a hibernation this time of year. Okay the winter gardening books did not use the word hibernation but plant's growth is almost stopped waiting for winter solstice to pass when they are suppose to take off once more. I noticed this with herbs growing in the window last year. Not enough hours of light. I severed the hanging limb and put it into a quart jar of water. Will it grow roots and take off. That is the question. Meanwhile the mother plant just got a trim.  

Tomato number three is too tall and when I replanted it putting in two paint sticks tied together for a stake I did an exaggerated S curve with it to keep it in line, pun intended. It now fits more upright on the shelf it must reside on rather than hanging over the edge.

The other phase of this experiment is to see how the plants do without a grow light. I want to see how economical I can go. They have not had a light since last spring.

My next experiment series began yesterday also. I have just planted a few seeds from the tomatoes of a previous harvest of these miniature tomatoes. The tomatoes that were wrinkled and old. You see I learned my lesson.

Late summer when I figured I had better collect seeds or call seed saving a wash for the year I had no or few old guys before the garden was saying goodbye--- hello cold. Then I discovered you want the really old wrinkled crowd to save seed from. U....t, Oh! Vegetables in their prime do not have good seeds as a rule. They are too small. See we old guys are the hope of the future. That meant only a few candidates made it to the learn how to process the seed stage. I did do some tomato and potato seed and learned more about fermentation to save seed. I am of course saving pumpkin seeds and one kind of pepper that put on the earliest so it had not crossed just like the pumpkin deal.

Not much but a start but a start never the less. "In all labor there is profit.", the saying goes and I learned that cucumbers have to be large, old, yellow, nearly dead guys from which viable seeds come from. I knew that great eating cucumbers have small seeds but it never really registered just how large, old, and nearly rotted they had to be before the seeds get large. Mine I tried to save from was on the path but had not arrived. I learned more about dried beans and  kept seed from the beans we eat green. One batch I dried on low in the dehydrator and one I let dry naturally. We shall see if the ones dried in the dehydrator will sprout. It was because of a matter of space that the experiment stemmed from. I learned that there can definitely be too many chickens in the garden. Maybe not my best gardening year but not a waste of time. My knowledge has increased and with learning do's and don'ts comes success.

I have several times grown, or shall we say attempted to grow lettuce in the house. This past spring I grew a miniature type of Tom Thumb and it was a great success. I was able to cut several times before the quality waned. I have another planting started yesterday. This time I put in a few other kinds also. Part of doing it right is getting the right kind of seeds for the situation. It just happens that this particular seed is good for winter gardening, something I will talk about more later. Now I am in the pondering and research stage.

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