Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Seed Saving - Zucchini

I begin my first seed saving post with a reminder I am not an expert! This is my first attempt at seed saving and everything I have learnt is from reading lots of books and researching from lots of different web pages as well as any good advice I have received. I have dabbled in gardening for the last 5 or so years, but am sure I have it in my blood as both my Nana's are extraordinary gardeners! I remember growing up and constantly playing in the garden so it was only natural I guess for me to head down the same garden path in my future. 

To start with I chose I nice healthy looking plant from the six that I planted and then just let one of the zucchinis keep growing. I self pollinated first thing in the morning to make sure I had an exact true to form zucchini growing. I twirled up the flower so no more pollination could occur from other sources, i.e bees. Then just let it to grow. Leave it until the skin is hard and difficult to pierce with a finger nail. Normally a good 6-8 weeks or so. The plant puts most of its love into that one vegetable and will stop producing anymore new zucchinis. You can leave it until the end of the growing season so that you can get a nice crop from the plant first, but I personally wanted it to grow in the best conditions while nice and healthy to allow for the best chance possible to have strong seeds for next season.

Once you have picked the giant zucchini, leave it to rest on your bench for a couple of days. When a zucchini is fully grown it is known as a marrow. It can be eaten if you really want to by slow cooking for a while and jazzing it up with other flavours, but it is definitely not the same or as succulent as a nice fresh baby (or immature) zucchini.  

Slice it in half and have a look at all those glorious seeds! Scoop them out with your fingers or a spoon and try to get most of the flesh away from the seeds then pop into a bowl of water and leave it to sit for a few hours or overnight just to get the rest of the flesh off.

Once you have left in the water for a bit, give it a stir. The viable seeds will sit on the bottom and the ones not so good will float. Scoop out the floating seeds and discard. I noticed that the floating seeds didn't look as plump and mature as the rest and also some had little cuts in from when I sliced it up. Do this a couple of times. Then drain the rest of the seeds.

Place the drained seeds on some paper towel or a dry tea towel and set in a safe place to dry out. I put mine on top of the pantry cupboard away from the kidlets fingers. Leave for a good week or so, but make sure they are fully dried out. Test one and if when you try to bend it in half it snaps its ready. If it just bends you need to leave them for longer. Pop them into a paper bag, envelope or any sort of storage container really and store somewhere cool and dry. I have dedicated a cheese drawer in the fridge to my seeds and thats where they will stay until next year.

And thats about it. Now the big test will be next year when I plant them out. I'm sure they will grow into lovely plants and life will continue to grow abundantly at the beach farm. I hope this is helpful to anyone interested, let me know what you think. Good luck x

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Holiday fun

Its holiday time and it has hardly stopped raining. Luckily it hasn't put too much of a dampener on our days with us each finding plenty to do. Yesterday (grey clouds looming) we took a nice coastal walk into town as a family (New Years Resolution #3), normally hubby would just take our two oldest kidlets. It was cruisey and nice to just chat along the way without me being distracted by my 'chores'. Did I mention how much I love doing my chores? Sounds pretty sad doesn't it, but I could easily and happily fill my days pottering around the house. The wee ones are catching on too! It seems the more I do around the place the more they want to help, in particular my oldest. Its quite a lovely little connection when we find ourselves working together in the garden, kitchen or where ever. Being school holidays means not having to race off to anything, we can just slowly and gently spend our days as they come upon us. Quite blissful to be honest.

First attempts at a bit of weaving with my oldest kidlet.

One of my chards going to seed.

Love the scent of a sweet frangipani.

My roma tomatoes, best I've managed to grow yet!
My garden is loving all the rain. I have hardly had to water it in the last month, maybe twice I think. Everything is growing amazingly and we have been eating our bounty on a daily basis. I find myself going to the garden and picking or collecting whatever is ready and concocting my meals for the evening (or breakfast even) around that. Some days feel a little short in supply, but there is always enough for a salad at least. There will probably be a bit of a lapse coming up in supply as I spent a lot of December doing not much in the garden at all. I have a new round of seeds popping up and still some goodies just starting to give veggies though. Our chickens were consistently giving us an egg a day, but it now seems that Trixie has stopped laying. She is the dominant hen so maybe she thinks that's enough work for her. I think its time to find some more friends for them. I love my eggs.

Trixie and Jessie are never far from each other.

A shared recipe from my neighbour.

My seedling patch.

One of my beautiful asters, I also have pink, white and light purple.
I am still in a state of shock and mourning since the death of our niece. Each day still feels like it cant be real.  I feel so sad for all the things that we'll miss out on seeing her do and all the things she will miss out on doing with us. My hubby and his two sisters all live here in the same town and we are all very close. Lots of time is spent together and my kidlets think we are all just one big happy family. Between the three families there are 12 (still including our angel) children ranging in age from 1 - 13, they all look out for each other and love like no one else matters. It really is the most amazing blessing any family could ask for. So lucky for all the love I feel and see among everyone. And for this my heart will ache everyday for our lost little love.

The latest craze in our house, lego! Anything goes.

 A new addition to the kitchen thanks Gigi.

My 'Nana' bush. Remembering you always xx.

Sunflower seed collection.
My seed saving adventures are coming along just nicely. It can make the garden look a little shabby at times waiting for plants to set seed fully, then once ready I can pull them out and nurture the ground back up for its next sprout of life. So far I've saved zucchini, 2 types of cucumber, 3 types of tomato, 5 types of sunflower and 2 types of paw paw. Coming into seed I have rainbow chard, mignonette lettuce, dill and coriander. I also saved all my extra sunflowers to give to my chickens as a treat. They are quite happy to peck out each tasty seed now... It took a few hand fed seeds before they realised they were going to have to do it themselves! I cant wait to grow all my own seeds next season and see all my hard work and patience be rewarded. I just hope all my 'google' learning is on the right track. Anyway, I hope 2016 has started off on a great note for all and look forward to many days of sunshine and blue skies! xx


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