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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Growing Next Year's Spinach Seeds

Every summer, I choose one or two vegetables to go to seed for the purpose of "growing" my own seeds. I usually collect enough seeds off of one plant for 2 or 3 years for that vegetable. Two summers ago I let kale go to seed. Last summer, it was beets and radish. This year, so far it's spinach.

When my vegetables begin to bolt, I pick the two most healthy looking specimens and transplant them to a spot where I can nurture them to the seed stage. I look for a spot in the garden that gets plenty of sun and reliable watering. Then I let nature do the rest.

Some plants will set seeds the first year. Others are biennials and don't set seeds until year two. So, I choose a spot for seed-setting that won't need to be disturbed to plant something else.

My spinach plants in pots on the deck were bolting.  I chose the best two plants and moved them into the recovering strawberry bed. (TThis was last years potato bed. This year, I moved some new strawberry plants into the bed and am waiting for them to send out runners.)

Afterward, I plucked all of the leaves off of the other spinach plants, pulled up the roots, stirred up the soil with some fertilizer, and reseeded those pots. I should have more spinach for salads in late July.

I have limited spare space to devote to setting seeds, so I only choose one or two types of seeds to produce each year. As soon as a crop is done in my beds each spring and summer, I move another one in -- maximizing my garden space.

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  1. I'm curious. Why do you move the plants to let them go to seed?

    I don't have an organized method like you do, but I did replant lettuce from seed I had grown last year. However, that happened only because some of the lettuce bolted before I got it picked. :) I am lucky that most of my plants come from leftover seeds or seedlings that others have too many of and they can't stand to see them go to waste. All I need to do is wait a little bit and not be too picky about the varieties we grow. So far, it is working great.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Plants that are going to seed take up more space in the garden than the plants that I'm growing for food. I can use that original spot for replanting in the same season if I move seed-setting plants to a currently unused spot.

      You are very fortunate to have friends who can share seeds. That's wonderful! I understand about not being picky about varieties. It seems to be that way about accepting hand-me-downs or leftovers of all sorts. But worth it, I think.

  2. The older lady at church who has given my daughter plants in the past has also gifted my husband with seeds. He has a couple of different kinds of green beans that he has grown from her seeds and we really enjoy them. At one point he had to return the favor to her as her green bean plants died out!

    1. Hi Kris,
      What a lovely seed-trading relationship between your husband and the woman at church. Hmmm, maybe I need to ask around more and see if I can offer any of my spare seeds to someone else.

    2. Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, we were worried that we wouldn't be able to purchase tomato plants. One of my coworkers gave us some of her seeds--it was a bit late on our end to plant them but some did come up and we got tomatoes from them. Even thought I'm not really into gardening, there is a sort of bond that develops with sharing seeds and plants between people, I have noticed. Seeds are also something that are shared on our church's "extra blessings" table.

    3. I think you're right about a bond between people through seed/plant swaps. Maybe this is like the "borrow a cup of sugar" between neighbors all those years ago.


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