Gardening: Expert advises on growing climbing plants
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Although it may be a lot of work saving seed from all plants, especially if you have lots on the go, it may be feasible to do it from a few. Building a stock of home-harvested seed can reduce gardening bills for the following season as well as provide several other benefits. Resilient gardening expert, Kim Stoddart, told Express.co.uk: “Home saved seed is more likely to be adapted to your own personal garden or outside space, where it was grown, so that builds resilience within which is really exciting.
“It means potentially more effective seed, more able to withstand extreme weather conditions, especially if you have also saved seed from the plants that have performed best in drought conditions.
“Also, there are many plants which are really easy to save seed from year after year. It’s a great way of saving money, building confidence and creating seed that is truly climate change savvy, what’s not to like?
“Also, know that this is just what people used to do before we all had garden centres and online seed stores to buy from.
“I love flicking through a gardening catalogue as much as the next person but allowing some of your plants to grow on and set seed is easy to weave into your gardening activities and it feels incredibly good to hone your own stock of seed for the following year.”
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Kim, who is the editor of The Organic Way magazine for Garden Organic and co-author of The Climate Change Garden book, has recommended a variety of veg produce from which to save.
This included peas, radishes and lettuce as well as tomatoes. The expert explained: “Pardon the pun but what better place to start than the humble but delicious pea. Just one plant can be saved from.
“Simply choose a nicely fattened pod from your plant, ideally one which has gone over its best for eating with maybe the outer shell starting to turn yellow.
“Pick this, remove the peas inside and leave on a warm windowsill to fully dry out for a couple of weeks. It is now ready to store away. An old seed packet or envelope will work well for thrifty but effective storage.”
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Another very easy plant to save from is a radish. Kim said she uses them for cut flowers and to decorate food.
She added: “One plant will also supply you with a vast array of seed pods – remove and leave somewhere warm to dry for an abundant supply.”
Another vegetable which is great to save from is lettuce, which according to Kim, aren’t seen much in most commercial seed packets.
The expert explained: “If you let them, they will produce a stunning array of flowers which then turn into seed. The only thing to watch out for here is the plants can go mouldy in wet weather so if you have any lettuce in pots you could bring it inside to grow on and set seed, or maybe provide some form of cover for your plants to keep them dry.
“One healthy lettuce plant will easily produce the equivalent of at least 20 packets of seed so it’s well worth doing. The seed is also viable for germination straight away so I’m currently using mine for windowsill salad opportunities over winter.”
Rocket, which is often used in salads, will self-seed with “abandon” according to the expert.
Gardeners can compost anything they don’t want or end up using but this vegetable is “super low maintenance” and great to grow.
Kim continued: “The commonly dictated advice for saving seed from tomatoes involves removing the seed and leaving it in a glass of water to ferment for a while before removing the seed to dry.
“It’s a real faff. Actually you don’t need to do this at all. I much prefer just laying the tomato seed (and its jelly-like surround) on paper and leaving it to dry out somewhere warm.
“This way, the paper or card can just be cut up, stored away and planted whole the following year.”
Gardeners can also save seed from French beans, leaving them somewhere warm before storing away.
Kim has been writing about climate change and resilience since 2013 and helps people grow delicious fruit and vegetables naturally, with less time and money overall.
She runs lots of courses including online to help people grow food at home all year round, including inside on the windowsill over winter.
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