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Tips for harvesting self-fertile vegetable seeds

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Bean seeds are easy to obtain, since their flowers are generally self-pollinating
Photo: Rasbak
Phaseolus vulgaris
  • Phaseolus vulgaris
  • Rows of lettuce in a vegetable patch.
  • A cluster of tomatoes
  • Eggplants in a vegetable garden

Beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants

These seeds are easy to obtain, since href="https://espacepourlavie.ca/en/flower-fertilization">these vegetables' flowers are
hermaphroditic and generally self-pollinating. Therefore, it is said that these vegetable plants are
self-fertile. It is best to space different cultivars of the same species a good distance apart if there are
many pollinating insects in your garden and not much nectar and pollen nearby.

Beans and peas

Selection : Do not use
any abnormal plants or discoloured or misshapen pods. Choose the earliest producers.

Distance between cultivars : It is recommended that you plant two
cultivars of the same species 50 m apart.

Steps :

1. Harvest beans when the pods are quite yellow and dry. Pull the plants out of the soil and hang them in a dry,
well-ventilated area. Then remove the seeds from the pods.

2. For peas, wait until the plants have died before removing the seeds from the pods and drying them
for a few weeks.

Comments

 If conditions are wet, you can collect the pods and finish drying them in a
sheltered spot.

After drying them, place them in the freezer for two days, in a sealed container, to destroy any
insect eggs that may be lodged under the seed coat.

Lettuce

Selection : It is important to select the proper seed plant, to maintain the line. Choose
well-developed specimens, or compact heads in the case of Boston, iceberg, Batavian or Romaine lettuce.

You can select and label your finest specimens, and then keep an eye on them as they grow so that you
use only the ones that bolt, or go to seed, last.

Distance between cultivars : The recommended spacing is four to five
metres between cultivars.

Steps :

1. Once the flower stalk develops, it must be staked for support. You can collect the
seed once the chaff, or fluff, attached to the seed is clearly visible, i.e. about 12 days after
flowering.

2. Cut off the flower stalks and lay them out to dry, then shake them well to dislodge the
seeds.

3. Use a screen to separate the chaff from the seeds.

Tomatoes

Selection : Take the
best-looking specimens from the third or fourth bunch from the bottom. Select them carefully, to maintain
the special traits of the cultivars that interest you.

Distance between cultivars : You can grow different tomato cultivars next
to each other. Five metres of spacing is recommended for cherry tomatoes, however. Heritage cultivars with
potato-type leaves must be spaced 50 m apart.

Steps : 

1. Cut the tomato open and squeeze out the juice. Put the seeds and the gel surrounding them in an uncovered jar with
a bit of water. 

2. After leaving them to ferment for 48 hours, skim off the white film with any floating seeds. Then
dump the remaining contents into a sieve and clean the seeds under running water.

3. Blot them with a paper towel and lay them out on a cookie sheet to dry.

Comments

Let the fruit ripen for a long
time.

Peppers

Selection : Do not
pick any fruit with black spots, as this disease can be carried by the seeds. Select them carefully, to
maintain the special traits of the cultivars that interest you.

Select them carefully, to maintain the special traits of the cultivars that interest you.

Distance between cultivars : The cross-pollination rate among sweet peppers is thought to be
about 80%, so they need to be spaced 50 m apart.

Another method is to cover a few plants with an insect-proof cloth.

Steps : 

1. You can wait until the fruit starts to wrinkle before picking it. 

2. Remove the seeds, blot them and lay them out to dry, without washing them.

Eggplants

Selection : Select the
finest fruit from the earliest producers. Select them carefully, to maintain the special traits of the
cultivars that interest you.

Distance between cultivars : Opinions are divided regarding spacing
requirements.

Steps :

1. Leave the fruit on the plant until it turns brown and beige. At this point it is no longer edible. Keep it indoors
for 10 days, then cut each one in half and scrape out the pulp containing the seeds.

2. Place the pulp and seeds in a bowl of water and squeeze them. The pulp will separate and the seeds
will sink to the bottom. Repeat as necessary to remove all the seeds, and then dry them.

 

Based on an article by Nathalie
Leuenberger, Quatre-Temps, vol. 23, no.4.

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