15 November 2011
If you are just starting out on your journey with seed saving then peas and beans are a good start for a number of reasons –
- They are large and easy to find and handle
- They dry out naturally and preserve well
- They don’t require any special processing
- They are quick to produce and you can harvest a suitable amount in one season
Beans are particularly good because the seed will stay fertile for 5 to 10 years and they do not easily cross pollinate whereas broad bean seed may only last 1 year (4 years in a cool dry place) and you will need several hundred metres between varieties to prevent cross pollination. Pea seeds will last 5 years in storage and because the plants are mainly self pollinated you only need a tall crop between rows to prevent cross pollination between varieties.
To save the seeds identify the high yielding plants and stop picking the pods and allow them to dry on the bush or vine. If there is any evidence of the bush or vine becoming diseased, particularly with a virus like blight, or if the plants don’t grow true to type, remove these plants from the patch and don’t save their seed. Leave the pods in place until they are dried off and are brittle, then harvest them and remove the seed from the pods, for a “backyard” amount of seed this is a good night time job in front of the TV.
Once the seed is removed from the pod, place it in a glass jar labelled with the type of plant, the variety and the year the seeds were harvested, seal and store in a cool dry place. Easy, peasey!