Thursday, January 17, 2013

Selecting Seed,Checking Seed Viability and What I Want To Preserve

When the seed catalogs start streaming in during December and January it immediately draws me to a time of sun-filled  lazy days working in the garden.  After the flurry and craziness of the holidays I need some much-needed down-time to dream and plan.
I receive oodles of catalogs but only buy from a few.  Johnny's, High Mowing, Fedco, Seeds of Change and Seed Savers Exchange offer open pollinated seeds which I prefer.
It is very easy to get carried away with all the beautiful pictures and want to order everything I see.  However, I do have a substantial seed stockpile that I'll go through and see which ones are still viable or which ones need to be replaced.
A viable seed is one that is able to germinate and produce a growing plant.  You can check the viability of your seeds by scattering a few seeds between barely moist paper towel.  Then place them inside a clear plastic bag and place in a warm place around 70 degrees.  Don't put them into direct sunlight or it will get too hot and you'll cook your seeds.  Peak at the seeds every couple of days.  When you see little bit of green popping through the hull of the seed you will know that you can use your seeds.  Give it up to a couple weeks as some seeds take longer to germinate than others.
Next thing, because I'm planning a food preservation garden, I'll work backwards to decide what and how much I'll need to plant.
This is a rough idea of what I'd like in my pantry and freezer at the end of the growing season 2013. There should be enough to feed myself and my family for a year as well a little extra to give away as gifts, etc..
I'll be using my trusty Ball Blue Book to help me get a rough idea how much I'll need:
Tomato Sauce-26 quarts
Whole Tomatoes-26 quarts

Pickled cucumbers-52 pints

Green beans-15 lbs frozen

I'll also be purchasing produce to preserve such as:
Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower (pickled vegetables)
Cabbage (saurkraut)
Strawberries (jam)

The next step will be to determine what and how much to grow to meet my goals.

Next, I get cozy and start perusing those catalogs with a purpose. Because I'm planting in a limited space and will try to get the best bang for my buck, I'll look for varieties that promise to be heavy producers and good for preserving.  Of course, the biggest factor will be taste!

My next post will highlight some veggies that comprise all of these criteria.  Stay tuned.

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