Saving Seed for next summer (beans)

The response by many gardeners – both the old, new, hopeful and optimistic, to the isolation conditions we have been asked to follow, had many interesting flow on affects.  The demand for seeds, seedlings and infrastructure to support food growing at home was very high – to say the least. Seed supply companies have depleted a lot of their stock (which is exciting as so many more households have a go growing food) – however this extraordinary demand for seed does means that there is extra pressure on the current seed growers for future seed supply.

Just quietly, I have a love for saving seed. I don’t buy a lot of seed except when there is a need to try a new variety or I am not happy with the quality of the plants growing from my seed any more. Saving seed gives me the chance to save seed of the plants that have performed well in our garden – given our local conditions. It can take a few years for plants to adapt to your local conditions so it makes sense to keep saving the seed from plants that have the characteristics that suit your own local climate.

I don’t save seed every year from all vegetable plants as I usually have enough for a few seasons worth of growing. The excess seed also goes to the local Seed Savers group (Seed Savers Albury Wodonga) where we swap and share seeds (plus so much gardening know how).

This last summer it was the dwarf bean “Gourmet Delight”that really performed brilliantly. We harvested so many beans – the last collection to place only at the end of this month. The cooling days and evenings have seen the plants start to sulk, so now it is time to collect what ever seed I can for next summer and to share with Seed Savers and friends.

The following is a quick guide to saving bean seeds – for a more information you can’t go past the The Seedsavers Handbook or visit Seed Saver Albury Wodonga’s information sheets.

Collect mature bean pods (the pods will be large, can still be green but the seeds will be changing colour within the pod) and put them in a sheltered location to continue to dry out.

Bean pods drying out before cleaning, freezing then storing for next summer

Bean pods drying out before cleaning, freezing then storing for next summer

Bean dwarf "Gourmet delight". Sown in Dec 2019 and still producing at the end of April 2020

Bean dwarf “Gourmet delight”. Sown in Dec 2019 and still producing at the end of April 2020

 

 

Dry the seeds pods until the seeds are hard and the pods really brittle - they should crumble when you rub them.

Dry the seeds pods until the seeds are hard and the pods really brittle – they should crumble when you rub them.

Once pods are dry the seeds will pop out easily from the pod and should be quite hard. Remove the seeds from the pods, cleaning away the “trash”- the old pods can harbor insect pests so it is always important to remove any of this.

When I am confident the seeds are completely dry (you can test this by trying to push a thumb nail into the seed – you shouldn’t be able to) – I freeze the seeds overnight. This kills off any insect eggs possibly hiding on the seed (Green Vegetable bug is a good one for this).

Once beans are dried and any pod trash cleaned away, store the seeds in a dark and dry location until summe

Once beans are dried and any pod trash cleaned away, store the seeds in a dark and dry location until summer.

You can easily collect plenty of seed for a few seasons to come and to share with many friends and neighbours.