Fall Harvest : Start An Organic Heirloom Seed Bank

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Even in today's modern, tech-savy day and age it is extremely important to be self-sufficient, especially regarding your food choices. The option to grow organic foods is sadly becoming evermore constricted, but knowledge of a few simple, and rather primitive techniques can allow you to successfully create a supply of organic heirloom seeds from whatever you choose to grow in a seasons time. Assuming we don't all live on acreage's, trading seeds between other growing friends and neighbours can also be a more effective way to put together the 'ultimate food garden'. If you have been planting this summer, fall is a perfect time to begin harvesting seeds. If you haven't yet started a garden, you can still collect seeds by purchasing a variant of each vegetable (or fruit) you wish to grow from your local organic market.

Peas are a great starter legume; Allow the pods, whether garden grown or store-bought, to dry until brown. If they are being grown in your garden, allow the pods to dry on the plant before harvesting. Store the dried beans in a cool, dry place until planting season.

Tomatoes are also easy to start with. When ripened cut the tomato into halves, opening the vertical cavities that contain the seeds. Gently squeeze out the jelly-like substance that contains the seeds. If done carefully, the tomato itself can still be eaten or saved for canning, sun-drying or dehydrating.

Peppers are similar to tomatoes, when fully ripened it is easy to collect seeds from; simply cut in half and place the clean seeds on a paper towel. Let dry in cool location until seed is dry enough to break when folded. Regardless what you are growing, communicate with others and trade seeds to widen your collection. Keep all your seeds dry and in a cool place to be ready for planting next spring. 

Lettuce is a great staple vegetable to have in your garden, and a relatively easy vegetable to teach you the principles of seed harvesting. Let a few lettuce plants intentionally go to seed (flower). The flowers will go through a few stages before being ready; they will bloom first - waiting for pollination. Once pollinated the flowers will close up. When they re-open, they will re-open with a white fibre that helps the seeds float to propagate. When you see the white fibres, gently pull it out of the casing. You will have several small lettuce seeds ready to be dried for spring.