The autumn leaves are turning fast nowadays. The light covers on our beds have been laundered and stored and again we have drug out and aired those trusty heavy winter quilts to replace them. As we pull and dispose of garden crops, store tomato cages, clean animal pens and apply fresh bedding for the winter months we constantly add to the growing mountain of compost piles that will overwinter to enrich the gardens come spring. As the old garden plants are pulled most are fed to the goats, chickens or turkeys who make pretty short work of disposing of them. My goats adore watermelon and apples! But like most seed savers our minds are always looking to the future and next years gardens. As we clean the plants from the garden we are constantly gathering any remaining seed pods that had been left to dry in the fall sun. The okra above must be gathered before the pods shatter and reseed the entire garden with unwanted okra plants.
Soon the fall rains will come so we want those pods while they are still dry. O Wise One simply breaks them open and takes the hard black seeds from the pods. Careful though those pods can be sharp when dry.
The seeds are about the size of bb's and hard. We allow them to air dry naturally in paper plates on the table for another couple weeks to make sure they are good and dry before we attempt to store them. Paper plates are perfect for this because I can write the variety name on the bottom of the plate for identification. Wet seeds will mold and we don't want that so we make sure they are good and dry.
Once good and dry I found these little plastic bags at the craft store for storing them. Just the perfect size for about a tablespoon of seeds or so per package. They are easy to write the variety name on the package with a permanent marker. I used to buy wax coated paper envelopes especially for storing seeds. I haven't seen those in years and doubt they still sell them.
The corn is really dry now so O Wise One took it off the cob by simply taking his thumb and running around the cob dislodging the kernels. Just these couple dozen ears yielded us enough sweet corn seed for several years. This is the open pollinated variety Golden Bantam.
Even though it is pretty dry already we again lay it out on trays for another week or so to make absolutely sure they are dry before storing in the freezer in vacuum bags.
Old baking sheets are perfect for laying seeds out to dry in large quantities. I never throw them away as they are one of the handiest things around for everything from dehydrating things in the oven, freezing those blanched vegetables to laying out seeds. Though old and beat up they will serve their purpose for many years to come.
So as the leaves turn and fall from the trees and the mercury dips on the thermometer we always look forward to that next year, next crop and next garden. But for now we plan and collect the seeds that make it possible. We prepare the last of our harvest for the year. We store the apples, onions and potatoes. We arrange the jars like jewels on our pantry room shelves, labeled and ready for those hot winter meals. Soon it will be time to butcher. Lots of chickens and turkeys to go in the freezer and jars this year. The pecans will soon fall and our afternoons will be filled with picking out the sweet meat from those hard shells.
But even though we plan for next years gardens and the harvests to come we don't forget the most important part of all. The business of thanking our maker for the bountiful harvests of the year and the health and endurance to nurture this land and feed ourselves and the continued good health that allows us to continue year after year.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter