Seeds forum: Spinach seeds -- how to keep dry so they mature

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Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Jun 18, 2015 10:30 AM CST
So even though the seeds of Olympia spinach are easily available, several people have encouraged me to go ahead and save seeds from some that I grew here. The spinach was very well liked by everyone who got some, and grows easily for me here, so why not see about saving seeds? The idea that seeds from plants already grown here are potentially more suited to this locale than ones I would purchase is in the back of my mind somewhere, but, anyway, to continue:

This morning I really needed to clear out most of the spinach plants in order to move a salvia into their spot. But I selected two that had flower stalks that looked pretty well done, and saved them from the general uprooting.

My questions:

1. Do I need to let them dry out completely before I bag the seedheads on the plants? (It's pretty wet right there due to recent showers.

2. I'm thinking a plastic baggie with a twist tie, but do I need to leave air space? Would a dark bag work better to keep the sun from cooking them in there?

Suddenly a simple idea seems to have become complicated so I thought I'd ask for some direction from more experienced seed savers. Usually when saving seeds in the past I've only bothered with seeds that are already thoroughly mature and dried on the plant. The easy stuff. Green Grin!

Here are pics of the two spinach plants I'm hoping to get lots of seeds from, as they were this morning:

Thumb of 2015-06-18/kylaluaz/8220d8
Thumb of 2015-06-18/kylaluaz/baf17f

As I had cleared out the other plants, these flopped and one stem broke but not completely off, so I hope they will still continue to develop seeds.

@RickCorey, I know you know a lot about this so, any advice and tips? Or anyone else who might like to chime in!

Thank You!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 18, 2015 11:41 AM CST
Hi, Kyla!

I would avoid plastic, I think the seed heads will be much happier if they can breath and the humidity they exhales can escape.

I think "organza" is the best material. It lets air, sun, rain and gases flow through freely. They have built-in pull-ties. You can get any color or size you want online, or small white bags locally from the "wedding supplies" isle of craft stores or Wal-Mart.

For big seed stalks like those, how about an organza bag big enough to hold a bottle of wine?

Best Organza Bag Source: found by Patti1957
order sizes around 10 to 30 bags
http://www.yourorganzabag.com/organzabag.htm

wine bottle size, available in 25 colors:
http://www.yourorganzabag.com/organzawinebag.htm
Ten for $3.30.


>> 1. Do I need to let them dry out completely before I bag the seedheads on the plants? (It's pretty wet right there due to recent showers.


Well, make sure the flowers had time open to the air, to be pollinated, but you've already done that if those are seed pods and not buds waiting to open.

If plastic can be used at all, starting out dry would be necessary. With breathable organza (or a foot cut from panty hose) , water can still evaporate, so it would not matter. You should expect them to be rained on more after bagging, it really can;'t matter much.

They DO have to be 100% dry or even more than air-dry before sealing them away or even piling them into a heap. I dry them in paper envelopes once I bring them indoors. (I need newer photos on this article. I found a way to cut "trays" from cereal boxes that hold envelopes upright tidily.)

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/1568/Dry-Saved-Seeds-...

I'm also fascinated by desiccants, and I imagine that seeds will store viably for more years if stored drier than 30% RH.
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/649/Silica-Gel-for-Dr...

I've been working on another "desiccant" article, but need better photos. I have it as a blog entry, but the HTML codes seem to have exposed themselves:
http://garden.org/blogs/view/RickCorey/

Oh, look! I seem to have written a tip for your very question! I had forgotten.
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/650/Bag-Seed-Heads-To...

"P.S.
http://www.giftsintl-us.com/products.php?cat=3
Here is another source of organza bags. A few years ago, I thought that the first site had better prices, but I haven't compared shipping cost and minimum orders recently."

Personally, I would not have bothered putting the bags on until some seed looked nearly ripe and was getting ready to fall out. But thinking about it, why wait?

Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Jun 18, 2015 11:47 AM CST
Rick, thanks so much, I knew I could count on you for the details!

Um, I don't think I have time to get organza bags. And honestly I have to make sure I am seeing seeds and not flowerbuds on some of this. They are quite tiny! (I do actually have some colored gift bags, come to think of it, but they're fairly small. Maybe I'll hunt them up and try them out....)

I think what I will probably do is attempt to keep the flowers as dry as possible, and then when it looks like seedheads are there, just let them dry on paper inside...... Maybe. First I have to check out all those links.

Green Grin!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 18, 2015 11:51 AM CST
Here's some online info about saving seeds from spinach:

http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-spinach-growing-and-s...

wind-pollinated
isolation distance up to 1/4 mile
consider staking the plants: some get 3' high

Here are some tips for pros:
http://www.seedsave.org/issi/904/experienced.html

Seed production can take 4-6 weeks past the eating stage.
Remove the plants that bolt fastest, you don't want fast-bolting genes.
The pollen can blow around for MILES!
(But probably many neighbors will pull it soon after bolting.)
"Leave one male plant for each two females to ensure pollination. "

That site kind of hinted that the seeds don't jump off the plants the way poppy seeds do. You might be able to let them "dry on the vine" until the plants turn brown, chop down the stalks, and then even need to thresh them a little to get the seeds out! I don't know, I never tried spinach.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jun 18, 2015 12:10 PM CST
For sure it is better to let them sit longer - viability is best when seeds are ripe, riper, ripest and even dry when pulled from the plant.

I wouldn't cut a seed head and expect it to finish ripening indoors. Everything I read says to let seeds stay on the plant until they fall off. But maybe you can!

I hope VA doesn't have drizzle-every-day while you're trying to collect seeds. I have Fall drizzle, and it makes it impossible to get seeds from late zinnias or marigolds. I can collect any number of seed heads pretending to be wet, moldy sponges!

If you're concerned about losing seeds when they drop off, maybe use paper bags on days it is not raining. Or just hope that spinach retains its seeds as one site hinted. When they say "haul the dry, brown seed stalks indoors and THRESH them", I figure that the plant will hold onto enough seeds to let you collect a lot.

P.S. I think the easiest way to clean seeds is to collect 2-3 times as many as you need. Then save only the ones that fall out with minimal threshing. By creating almost no chaff, you hardly need any cleaning.

Then save bags of the leftover seed+chaff without ever getting it very clean. You can plant those yourself. Or re-clean them if you eve run out of the first, cleanest batch you collected.

By the way: congratulations on preserving our Spinach Independence from corporations that may not share our values!

Maybe you can find or found a local seed library.
http://www.seedlibrarian.com/

Oops. Territorial says that Olympia is an F1 hybrid. Some F1 hybrids produce F2 seed that is pretty close to the F1 crop you grew. Others have a lot of hybrid variation even in the first year (F2 crop).

Probably seed saved from the F2 crop you and your friends will grow next year is likely to produce a quite varied F3 crop. Roguing out undesirable plants and saving seed only from the best and slowest-bolting plants will tend to select for the traits you want, but really saving seeds from OP varieties will reward your efforts better by giving you an optimum crop every year with much less need to rogue out poor plants and search long and hard for ideal plants to allow to bolt and pollinate each other.
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/1279/OP-vs-OP/


Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Jun 18, 2015 12:49 PM CST
Good point about the F1 factor, I had not even thought of that.

As for the seed library idea, we already talked about that and I am going to register the Little Free (book) Library's Even Littler Seed Library, when the time comes. Green Grin!

and thank you for all the research! I'd feel embarrassed that I didn't do those searches myself except that I know you are much faster at it than I and I suspect you really enjoy it also, which I don't really, beyond an initial bump of the google monster. So, really, thanks!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jun 18, 2015 5:30 PM CST
kylaluaz said:... and I suspect you really enjoy it also, ...


Totally! And I take it as a compliment.

Thanks very much for the acorn! I really, really hope you mention how the F2 seeds turn out next year or this Fall, and even more so how the F3 turns out.

I always used to think that F2's were ALWAYS wonky, but someone with 100 times more experience than I do (HorseShoe?) pointed out that many F1 varieties come PRETTY true to their parents, at least for one generation.

And my thought is that one baby leaf is much like another. If saving F2 seeds lets you sow or plant 3-5 times thicker than usual, you can harvest plants 1/3rd or 1/5th the size, and wallow in gourmet, baby spinach.

That's my plan for Bok Choy, anyway, once I retire and can spend more time in the garden than the time it takes just to weed.

Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Image
kylaluaz
Jun 18, 2015 5:42 PM CST
Well, Rick, I surely will post an update, if I get that far! But don't get your hopes up too high, okay? It may turn out to be more labor intensive a pursuit than I am ready for at this stage.

Good point about the little leaves, too, and that is how this spinach was harvested anyway. I never pulled any mature plants until just today when I pulled them to the compost, LOL! But those outer leaves did get pretty large, actually, and still tender and sweet for a good long run. I started another small batch of seeds, too, but it turned so dang hot I don't want to try to nurse them along. (Last year was consistently five to ten degrees cooler than it's been since the beginning of June here.)

The seeds in my library are likely to be predominantly zinnias and cleomes and cosmos and easy stuff like that. Although I do have that one Mizuna plant going nicely to seed right now; those would be easy to harvest. But probably I will let the birds have them.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jun 18, 2015 5:58 PM CST
That explains the tweets I heard about a new Chinese restaurant near Richmond, said by some to be "for the birds".

>> It may turn out to be more labor intensive a pursuit than I am ready for at this stage.

Totally! I had more ideas for projects than I could get done even when I had a lot more free time.

Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Image
kylaluaz
Jun 18, 2015 6:02 PM CST
Green Grin!

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