Summer bounty is a gratifying reward for any vegetable gardener, but remember while preserving those veggies to save some of their seeds for next year. It’s a cost-saving procedure that everyone should consider. Other advantages include seeds acclimated to your area of the country as well as ensuring genetic heirloom diversity of your food supply.
Save the seeds of the best produce. For example those that have characteristics of early ripening, good color or size and excellent taste. Pepper seeds are easy to save. While you are processing them for storage, mark a paper plate for identification and allow the seeds to dry. When dry after a few days, place into a small paper envelope and store in a dry place. I keep mine in plastic bins per vegetable group.
With melons and squash place the seeds in a fine mesh colander or strainer, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry on paper plates that have been labeled. The purpose of the water rinse is to remove the sugars and fibers from the seeds.
Beans are easy to save. After the bean pod swells with seeds, let the shells dry on the vine, then harvest the beans and remove shell. Allow beans to dry for a week then place into jars or paper bags. Above are Borlotto beans or their common name Tongue of Fire.
Greens are something I haven’t mentioned much but they are a staple for me especially chard and kale. I grow chard primarily in raised beds but kale is a staple in the greenhouse, raised beds and a few in the Hilltop garden. Periodically I have problems with leafminer larvae burrowing into the chard leaves. Sweet Alyssum helps somewhat by deterring the fly that deposits the eggs on the underside of the leaves but simply trimming out the affected leaves works as well. The above photo shows I harvested most of the leaves and culled the affected ones. Soon I’ll have abundance again from them.
Once again I spied my nemesis harlequin bugs on kale leaves while I was harvesting and cleaning out the raised bed with the chard. The eggs are pictured above. They appear on the tops or undersides of leaves of brassicas and seem to multiply rapidly at this time of year if left unchecked. The eggs are very hard to the touch so no wonder they are so resilient. I don’t use kaolin clay solution on these three plants because I can easily access them in the raised bed but the Hilltop garden brussel sprouts and broccoli are a different story. They have so many hiding places among the leaves. I’m convinced in my garden broccoli are the harlequin bugs first choice. Another note is keep your garden picked up so they can’t find a place they are comfortable to lay their eggs. It’s a debate each year I have with myself on cover crop debris that I leave over winter but I prefer the advantage of the soil nutrients.
Zucchini are looking a little sparse now but the surprise this year was I have the same four zucchini plants that I had in the beginning of the garden season. Squash vine borers have left their marks on all four main plant stems and the production rate has slowed considerably. Powdery mildew also took its toll on all of them for the past month, but I removed the diseased leaves each week and they have still produced.
On that note I’ll leave you with a photo of the Hilltop Westside with morning glories in the foreground and some beans that I’m using as a cover crop. Until next time.