Storing And Harvesting Seeds
During the winter months, when the ground is covered by a thick blanket of snow, there’s something particularly satisfying about still being able to eat food from your garden. There are many summer-grown crops including potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, carrots and winter squash, can be stored with relative ease to nourish you right through until the next growing season. Even a modest-size garden can yield a substantial crop of winter keepers.
To be successful storing these keeper crops at home, here are a couple factors to keep in mind:
- Some varieties store better than others, so be sure to seek out the ones that are known to be good keepers.
- Crops that are harvested at their prime – not before or after – store best. Time your plantings so they mature at the close of the season.
- Only first quality, unblemished produce is suitable for storage.
- Optimum temperature and humidity for storage varies by crop, so be sure that the crops you plan to store match the storage conditions you can provide.
When To Collect And Store Seed
- Harvest your own seed is fun but takes a little understanding and planning:
- Seed heads can ripen quickly, and must be watched carefully in order to collect the seed before they are dispersed
- As a rough guide, seed is set about two months after flowering
- Some seed is collected when well developed but immature and green, such asAnemone nemorosa, calendula and Ranunculus
- Berries need to be collected before they are taken by birds
- The plants from which you collect seed must be healthy and vigorous. This will help ensure good quality seedlings and plants
- Usually only species “come true” from seed – seedlings from a hybrid will be extremely variable
- Most seed germinates best if sown as soon as they ripen, whereas seed harvested while immature will not germinate
Storing And Harvesting Garlic Seeds
Wet summers are bad for picnics but great for onions. The more moisture onions get, the larger they grow. Onions also benefit from lots of sun, and will sulk if they’re crowded by neighboring plants or weeds.
Consider starting your onions from seed or young plants, rather than purchasing the little “onion sets” you can buy in the spring. Onions grown from sets rarely store as well as seed-grown onions. Growing from seed also allows you choose a variety that’s known for long storage. Strong-flavored, pungent onions store best (the same chemicals that make onions pungent make them good keepers). There are both red and yellow storage onions; those extra-large, milder onions should be eaten fresh as they don’t store well.
Onion seeds must be started indoors, several months before they’re planted into the garden. Broadcast the seeds so they are about 1/2″ apart and cover lightly with soil. Once the plants are up and the stems have straightened, trim the tops with scissors to a height of about 2″. Repeat every couple weeks (sort of like trimming a Chia pet) until it’s time for your onion plants to go into the garden. These haircuts force energy into the roots and also keep the plants from toppling over. Onions are heavy feeders, so be sure to amend the soil in the planting area with compost and a granular organic fertilizer. Set the seedlings (which may be less than 1/8″ in diameter at the base) about 6″ apart in each direction. Keep them well-watered and well-weeded, and make sure they don’t get shaded by neighboring plants.
In late summer, the leaves of onion plants flop over. This signals that it’s time for the plants to stop growing and start preparing for winter. Allow the plants to remain where they are until the necks begin to tighten and the foliage yellows. If the weather is dry and there’s no danger of frost, onions can be harvested and laid right on top of the soil to dry for a week or two. If the weather is wet or frost is possible, harvest your onions and move them immediately into a protected location where they will stay dry. The floor of the garage or a covered porch works well. Spread the onions out in a single layer and let them “cure” for two weeks. During this time the necks will wither and turn brown, and the papery skins will tighten around the bulbs. Once the necks have dried and there’s no more moisture in the stem or leaves, you can bring your onions indoors and store them in mesh bags or bushel baskets. Keep them cool (35 to 45 degrees F.) and away from light. Another technique for storing an abundance of onions: make caramelized onions.
Storing And Harvesting Cannabis Seeds
Indoor and outdoor harvesting of Cannabis from marijuana seeds are basically the same thing except that you have to bring your harvest inside in the case of outdoor growers. If the plants are on private land where you can just pull the plants out of the ground and bring them in your house, then you shouldn’t have any trouble. Guerrilla farmers, however, will probably have to hike in to retrieve their plants and then hike back out unnoticed. Of course, this is generally not that easy to do and may require the help of a friend depending on the size of the plants and the overall size of the crop. If at all possible, try doing this during the night or in the early morning to avoid any people potentially seeing you. Even if you conceal the plants in bags, any onlookers will reach some obvious conclusions. In any event, taking a few leaves and shoots before the actual harvest time is one of the more prudent decisions you can make. This essentially ensures that you’ll at least get something for all your efforts in the event that your plants get ripped off or noticed by law enforcement. For indoor growers, it’s always good to sample a little bit of the smoke beforehand. The leaves and shoots during vegetative growth will actually be rather potent and will provide you with some good smoke in general.
When you finally harvest the plants, the first thing you should do is strip the fan leaves off the plant. This is because they are less potent than the colas and they often don’t cure as well as the other parts of the plant. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be used, however. In fact, fan leaves are known to have a somewhat high concentration of THC, especially after they have just been pulled.
Once you’ve done that, you can start grading and manicuring the plants. Grading simply involves separating the plants by their particular sex, strain, and anatomical part of the plant. For instance, you might place all sativa-dominant, female, top colas in the same area. Most growers like to hang their plants upside down from a wire, if only because it’s considerably easier than doing anything else. Manicuring involves taking any excess leaves from around the colas so that the plants will dry quite easily.
At this point, you should start drying your plants. Drying is a necessary activity, particularly if you want to store your bud for later use. It eliminates the risk of incurring mold and also ensures that the grass will last a long time. Most growers use a slow drying method that simply involves hanging them upside down and letting the air dry them out naturally. This usually takes about two weeks to complete fully. Of course, they will also start to cure a little bit during this process which may limit the potency somewhat.
Storing your bud is the best way to ensure that it lasts you until at least the next harvest. Many growers simply place their dried bud in a dark (usually glass) container and then put that container in the refrigerator or freezer. Light and heat are two of the major things that will degrade THC, so if you keep the storage area dark and cold, then you will still be able to enjoy your smoke well into the future.
Lack of collectable seed: Some plants are sterile and cannot set seed. Trying to collect seed from such plants will obviously be disappointing. Others (e.g. holly) may carry male and female flowers on separate plants so male plants will never bear seed.
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Poor viability (the length of time that seed stays alive and able to germinate): If seed is sown but fails to germinate, it suggests it was not viable. Seed viability depends on the condition of the seed when first stored, how long it is stored and what seed is being kept. A good propagation book – e.g. RHS Propagating Plants Book – should be consulted.