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Hello from Scotland

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  • Hello from Scotland

    Hello, I’m Steph, from Scotland. I’ve been growing veg for a few years and just getting into veg seed saving (always saved flower seeds).
    I’ve read Sue Stickland’s book and some websites. I’m from a farming/biology background so familiar with veg families, viable populations, isolation distances, hand pollination, etc.,

    I have grown several varieties of different veg this year with a view to finding/making isolated plots next year to let them flower and start a seed library. Several each of Beetroot, carrot, parsnip, other brassicas, etc., along with some annuals this year, peas, beans, toms, with mixed success! Pumpkins and butternut squash failed. (It was a very cold spring and short summer here).

    Cucumbers did well, just taken seed out of first one and have a question which I hope someone can help with?
    The cucumber seeds vary in size, should I only keep the larger ones or are they all viable? (I can do a germination test but thought I’d just ask people who already know.) thanks in advance and looking forward to finding out more on your forum.

  • #2
    Hello Steph, welcome! It's great to have a new member, and from another climate/region of the UK, too!

    Hope your biennial veg overwinters well and that you get a great seed crop next year. Which peas/beans/toms did you grow? It certainly hasn't been an easy year.

    Sometimes not all cucumber seed is 'filled'. These empty seeds are much lighter and should winnow away easily.


    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      Indeed. Or float on top, if you immerse all seeds very briefly.

  • #3
    I'd like to welcome you too. It's great to have interest from a new quarter. Good luck with your seed-saving endeavours. Your background should help a great deal.

    Are you lifting your carrots, beetroot etc. and replanting in the spring, or leaving them in the ground overwinter? I've never tried replanting the next season but I believe there are some here who do. I imagine in Scotland, unless under cover, they would suffer over winter. And of course, rodents can be problematic. I hope you do well with the seed-saving from root crops.

    Butternut squash, even if they get a better start than we all had this year, need quite a lot of warmth to ripen well. I think you'd need a very good summer and autumn to get a good crop.

    I agree with Triffid that the plumper cucumber seeds are the ones to save. Luckily cucumbers usually have plenty of seeds so hopefully you should have enough good big ones.


    • #4
      Welcome from me too. I live in Germany now, south east close to the Austrian border, after 40 years in Northamptonshire. Still having to relearn a lot of what I thought I knew. Thankfully the basics of seedsaving are the same wherever you live. You prefer isolated plots instead of covers and insect pollination by blowflies? Good to have the space. Looking forward to reading your posts Steph.


      • #5
        Thanks for your welcoming messages! I’ll try floating them next time. The first batch are already drying, but have three other very ripe cucumbers to extract tomorrow (my elder son wanted to help so didn’t want to do it all when he was at school). Something like Watamo(?) and another less spiked variety (grown separately) but need to check the variety name - none is F1.
        Gigantes runner beans: hammered by slugs initially but producing some good beans. Field beans, Dieta lupin. Two types of peas, don’t remember names off top of my head. Onions are lifted, Yellow Rynesburger and Lyra(?). I’ll lift the veg and store overwinter. We overwinter carrots commercially under plastic sheets and a think layer of straw but they’re in beds whereas mine are on the flat in the garden and will likely suffer in a wet winter. Im thinking a mixture of distanced patches and enclosures. I’ve bought fleece for cages and read about blowflies for pol but hope to outsource at least some of the required patches. Oil seed rape is widely grown here so brassicas won't be easy.
        I need to do more reading into it all to make a proper plan. Thanks for having me!


        • #6
          Is it your family farm which grows carrots and keeps them through the winter under straw? If your family’s farm includes vegetable growing I imagine that brings interesting advantages and disadvantages - in terms of land availability, distances etc.

          How did you get on with your Dieta lupins?


          • #7
            Hello Steph and Welcome to the forum, great to have you here.
            start a seed library
            sounds fascinating and so exciting I'd love to hear more of your plans and ideas?
            I think Brassicas to be kept pure are never easy and perhaps best undercover if you have a lot of nearby crops.


            • #8
              Hi, yes it’s our farm, I’m lucky to have a large garden, little greenhouse, and shared use of a poly tunnel. I think it’ll have positives and negatives: in a town or allotment neighbours within 1-2km could be growing all sorts whereas here I can identify 100% crops within 1km or more if needed and quite a bit of Forrest borders our farm too so fairly good for isolation. Carrots don’t run to seed on the farm.
              I also have a community network of people we are learning/teaching about the environment, permaculture and setting up a community veg growing enterprise. So I hope between us we can manage to do a fair bit.
              for the kales, there’s one in the poly tunnel. Last year I picked the flower heads (and ate them!) until the oilseed rape had finished and then let it flower and seed. Resulting kale plants seemed identical to parent plants which I sowed again this year to compare.
              So I hope to try this again next year, hold their flowering season back. I’m also wondering if I can use closhes or something to bring others forward.

              How early could I plant onions in the polytunnel in the spring? -are the leaves allowed to get a bit frosted as they start to grow? It would be good if I could get them up and going before the summer busyness starts.


              • #9
                Your farming situation sounds full of interesting possibilities and I think we'll all look forward to hearing more about how things develop. Also the permaculture veg growing network. Great stuff.

                Great that your kale management resulted in the desired seed. Oil seed rape is a big crop round here too so spring/early summer brassica seed management is tricky. But most kales are Brassica oleracea, a family which includes cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts etc whereas rape is Brassica napus. Red Russian kale and Siberian kale are also Brassica napus so if your kale was either of those you were absolutely right to stop it flowering until the rape was past flowering stage. But if it's one of the many other types of kale, it shouldn't be necessary I believe.

                Are you planning to grow your onions from seed? They grow well from a late December or January sowing but I only have experience of sowing them in modules or trays and planting them out later, usually in April. But yes, they're pretty hardy. There are varieties you can grow out of doors over winter, which is an indication of their general hardiness.


                • #10
                  Thanks for your enthusiasm and the info on the kale species, I didn’t know this.

                  I have the onions, lifted and drying for winter, (grown from seed this year, modules and planted out after frosts). Just wondered how early I could plant them in the tunnel to let them flower. Earlier the better as my time, outdoor veg beds and the poly tunnel will be filling up fast by June. It’d be great if I could get one variety of onion planted maybe February/March, flowering and heading to seed by summer.
                  The tunnel does get cold, frosted at night in winter. Are onions allowed to get that cold? I’ve looked in my books and online but not found this information. I could build some sort of manure hot bed and thermal store of bricks or something to keep the frost off but it’s more work. I also don’t know how long they take from replanting to collecting seed. if anyone knew these two things I’d be grateful!


                  • Jang
                    Jang commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I don’t know how early you can risk planting onion bulbs. The general advice is to plant in early spring. One site specifies waiting till the soil is about 12C but that seems over-cautious to me.
                    They take rather a long time to mature. My leek seeds still aren’t ready and I’d guess onions are similar. September to October perhaps.
                    Last edited by Jang; 03-10-2021, 23:08.

                  • Galina
                    Galina commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You can squish one little 'blob' and see whether the seed inside is black. If so the scape can be cut and placed indoors on papers to dry off. Leek has a tendency to shatter seedpods and scatter seeds. The method of taking them indoors prevents losing a lot of seed. And the seeds are almost certainly mature by now, unless something very untoward has been happening.