Category Archives: Saving Seeds

My Cotton Is Trying To Produce A 2nd Harvest

I bought some green heirloom cotton seeds from Southern Exposure seeds.  I have been growing a half dozen or so plants for a few years, just collecting the cotton for the time being.

I planted the plants – this year from last year’s seeds – in the spring and the cotton was ready to harvest by late summer.  I decided to just leave the plants in the ground after harvest.  I then noticed that the plants put on new leaves and then new buds.  I let them grow.  By late fall and cold weather, the plants had put out flowers and then the baby bolls developed.  Unfortunately the 2nd wave of buds could not mature before the killings frosts arrived.  I am in zone 8.  If I was a zone or 2 warmer, these plants would have probably produced a harvestable 2nd round.

This plant has a 2nd round bloom on a plant with a harvested cotton shell noted by the hand.

2nd blooming of east texas green heirloom cotton

These re-blooms came in two colors – pinkish/light lavenderish and yellow.

east texas green heirloom cotton pink flower

east texas green cotton with yellow bloom

The catalog said that these plants grow to about 5 feet.  Mine, in a raised bed with less than 12″ of soil on top of red clay ground, and planted about 12″ apart, grew to about 28 or so inches.  The catalog says that they should be planted 18-30″ apart in rows 5 ft. apart.  I don’t have that kind of room, in fact, I don’t have any on-ground growing space because of our red clay soil.  I am running the risk damaging the genetic quality of my seeds by growing them in less than ideal conditions.  I am considering maybe planting one plant at the end of some of my beds, hoping that maybe a plant by itself may have more root room in my tightly packed beds.

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This Season’s Tomato & Pepper Seedlings

The Tomato and Pepper seedlings are coming along very well.
I started the tomatoes and peppers in small seed starting plug trays – with between 72 and 128 cells in each flat. This works very well.

I put at least 2 seeds in each hole, sometimes more if I think the pepper seeds won’t germinate well. I had almost full pepper germination! I have a hard time just pinching off the extra seedling, so I end up pulling the plug out, separating the roots and replanting them in recycled plastic plant holders. I put the one of the seedlings back into the plug tray using the original seed starting mix and I use garden soil/potting mix to plant the extra seedlings.

These Rutgers are the extra tomatoes that I replanted instead of just pinching them off. They are all doing well – this picture is a week old. Tomato and pepper seedlings seem to transplant very well with no stunting.

transplanted tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings in the original plug trays.  You can see Arizona Cypress seedlings in small pots.

tomato seedlings

These are 2 pepper plug trays.  Hot peppers are in one tray and sweet peppers in another.  These are not quite big enough for me to want to transplant them yet.   I am very pleased with the pepper germination.

transplanted tomato seedlings

I learned to seed tomatoes and peppers in separate trays because tomatoes germinate quicker and I can put them out in the cool greenhouse earlier.  I have to keep the peppers in the warm house longer as they fully germinate and this would cause any tomato seedlings to not get sufficient sun and get leggy.  Peppers also take longer for all different varieties to fully germinate and so I have to put them out in the sun during the day, then bring them back into the warm house for the night, then back outside the next day.  They only go out to the cooler greenhouse after all varieties have finally germinated.

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A Buckeye Update – They All Made It!

Upon closer examination of the 4 pots with buckeyes planted in them, I realized that they all did infact sprout.  The other 4 just hadn’t surfaced yet, but their roots were growing out of the pots.  I’m very pleased.  The buckeye/firecracker plant is a real gem.

Circled in red are the 2 buckeyes that sprouted first.  (Notice a sprouting pine in the pot on the right)

sprouting buckeyes

I had gathered 6 buckeyes, all from the same 3′ plant down the driveway.  It is said that the germination rate of these plants is about 50%, but it looks like I achieved 100%!!  These other 4 pots have not yet sprouted so I looked at the bottom of them and noticed these large roots growing out of the holes.  To get some of them out, I had to cut the bottom of the pots.  Oh joy, now I have 6 buckeyes to go plant in the woods, not too far from the house.  Now that I know what I am dealing with, I will be on the lookout for the buckeye seeds by next September.  I now know what to look for as far as the seed pods on the plants.
roots growing out of the bottom of the pots

Today is about 3 weeks since I have cut out and re-potted these seedlings and most have them are now popping thru the soil surface!!!  I’m really thrilled as this such an interesting plant although it has no food value.  The plant does well in full sun, but the ones in our woods are in mostly shade, as shall these be once I get them planted out in the next few weeks.

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The Bluebonnets That I Seeded Last Fall Are Sprouting

Last fall I collected several dozen Bluebonnet seeds from 2 Bluebonnets that popped up in the yard last summer.  I watched the flowers and kept them out of danger until the seed pods turned brown and were safe to pick.  I planted half of the seeds around the giant Turkey oak that they sprouted by.  The other day I found 2 of the dozen and half or so seeds had sprouted!

sprouting bluebonnets

They’re tough little sprouts.  They survived the freeze, rain and whatever else.  Now I need to protect them until they grow up and produce even more seeds.

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Today, when walking to the mail box, I saw them – six of them – clustered together under what I thought was a Firecracker plant next to the driveway.

Doing a bit of research I found that the Firecracker plant and the buckeye are the SAME plant.

These are large seeds – a bit larger than a whole walnut.  The buckeye at the top looks like it has already started t germinate.  In the top right is a part of the outer shell that holds 2 or 3 of these buckeyes together in their pod.  They reportedly aren’t viable for long so I planted them in small deep pots with potting soil.   If they sprout – they are said to have a 50% germination rate – I will plant them in a deeper pot.  I hope to plant them in the ground in the woods by late spring next year.

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American Sweet Gum Tree Seeds

Fall is the time to collect most tree seeds.  I have admired how massively enormous American Sweet Gum trees can grow.  I have some around here and it is time to collect the seeds and try to start some seedlings.  It can’t be too hard because we have little Sweet Gum sprouts all over the place.  Now, I want to start seedlings in the greenhouse and plant them where I want them to grow.

According to references, these seeds must be chilled for a minimum of one month to satisfy their dormancy requirements.  Then they can be planted.

I have 2 gum balls in this picture.  I picked them up off of the ground when they were green.  I allowed them to sit on the porch until they turned brown and the holes opened up.  While shaking the balls, along with the seeds a bunch of tiny brown flaky things came out.  I discarded the brown sawdust stuff and kept the seeds – which are the larger things at the bottom right.

american sweet gum tree seeds

I enjoy trying to propagate all sorts of plants.  This is the first time that I am going to try Sweet Gum.  To chill the seeds, I think that I’ll just put them in a small plastic zip bag – no perilite or peat moss – for a month.  I’ll leave most of them in the refrigerator and wait for spring, but as soon as they chill for a month, I can’t wait to get some into soil and see what happens.

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Heriloom Slo Bolt Leaf Lettuce Going To Seed

I really liked this Slo Bolt lettuce.  I am letting a couple of heads go to seed.  It would definitely be better if I could have let a dozen plants go to seed, but I just don’t have the space.  If I let this plant make it all the way to mature seed, I’ll have to be sure and try to remember not to save seed from this plant’s children.  The genetics will probably be poorer.

You can see little yellow flowers.  I am only letting one variety of lettuce go to seed, so I shouldn’t have a problem with cross pollination.  Collecting lettuce seed can be sticky – I have always had a milky stickyness from handling the seed heads.
slo bolt lettuce going to seed

I like Slo Bolt Lettuce.  It is leafy.  I also grow Cos lettuce.  Cos takes a freeze much better than cos.  You can see the basil plants all around the lettuce.  Since the peppers aren’t doing well, this will becomemy basil bed. The swiss chard in the background will be gone in a few weeks.

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Too Much Rain – Peppers Water-Logged

We have had a very unusual week of rain and my peppers don’t look too happy.

The new leaves, grown since the rain which left the soil in the beds drenched, are curled and deformed looking.
water logged peppers

All of the peppers in the raised beds have these curled, defective leaves.  The few peppers in pots that didn’t get rained on look normal.

Doing research, the most likely cause of these leaf issues are either too much water and/or temperatures too cool, which it is with all this rain.  Peppers like it hot and dry.  I have to hope that things will dry out and the peppers will grow back normally.  The beds are filled with fertile soil rich in humus and organic matter, so they drain well.  The problem is that it has rained just about every day.
water logged pepper leaves

You can see that the older leaves look just fine, but the newer leaves that grew during the rainy time are deformed.  I started my pepper plants from heirloom seeds that I save and use year after year.  Gotta hope these plants make – I’m counting on all of the peppers – AND the fresh seeds for next year’s plants.

The swiss chard and squash are loving this rain.  I’m not sure about the beans or tomatoes – they don’t look just great either.

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Chard, Chard, Chard – What To DoWith All This Chard

Time is running out on this chard.  It will probably still be good for another month or so until it gets too hot.  I have been drying 2 batches of chard a day for the past few weeks.  When I cut out the thick stems, it only takes about 2 to 2 and a half hours at lowest temperature – about 105 to 110 degrees – to dry the leaves.

garden chard

This bed of chard was planted last fall and lived under a plastic greenhouse covering – the gray supports can still be seen (they have since been removed and put up for the summer).  I am now carefully harvesting leaves because I am selecting certain plants to let go to seed.  I am selecting plants that have giant, wrinkled leaves – the kink that I like.

What a beautiful, giant, wrinkly leaf! These leaves all came from a batch of Luculus Chard seeds.

giant chard leaf

These giant chard leaves are a bit less wrinkled, but still have nice, thick leaves.
closeup of giant chard leaves

I also planted this red stemmed chard, Ruby Red, an heirloom variety. Only 2 plants survived and grew to large plants – possibly because these were 2009 seeds. This variety also has nice wrinkled leaves. I can’t, however, let both varieties go to seed because they will cross and I will have an inbred mess.  Both of these varieties are heirloom.

red stem chard

A few posts back I posted pictures of the food dryer and drying kale.  I will be posting of the dryer full of chard as soon as I get the pics uploaded.  I can crunch up 2 dryer loads and stuff them into one wide mouth quart canning jar.

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