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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

I have to thank all of my friends for the donation of tomatoes. I finally got about 30 quarts processed and a lot of salsa.

Hot Rod Henry loves stewed tomatoes for breakfast. Speaking of Hot Rod Henry, he has trouble walking these days so recently we went shopping at one of the larger stores in the area. He decided to use the electric wheelchair provided by the store. As you could guess, he zipped around the store as if he was riding the lawn mower. I could not keep up but after he learned how to use the beeper, I could finally keep track of him. The good thing is he didn’t run over anybody or knock down displays. I guess he needed to have a little fun in his life since he is not allowed on the lawn mower anymore.

Gardening is not over yet. I have to get the garlic planted. Garlic is a bulb so a little bone meal planted with the cloves will give them a great start. If the weather stays warm, the garlic could start to sprout but that’s OK and it will still do well.

It’s time to collect seeds. The best seeds to collect are beans, peas, okra, peppers, pumpkins, squash, radishes, lettuce, and tomatoes as long as they are not hybrids. Make sure the beans, peas, and okra have dried on the plant. They should turn brown and brittle. Save seeds from peppers after they have turned red. Save seeds from squash and pumpkins if no other variety has been planted with them. Butternut is the exception. Lettuce and radishes go to seed easily and they will seed themselves for next year. You can also harvest the seeds once they are dry. Only save seeds from tomatoes if they are not hybrids. They are a little harder to dry because of the mucus surrounding the seeds. If you place them in a glass of water until they ferment, you can wash them and spread the on parchment paper to dry. If you use paper towels, the seeds tend to stick. The reason tomatoes have the slimy coating is interesting. This coating prevents tomatoes from germinating if left in the garden but by the time spring arrives the coating has dried so the seeds sprout. That is why we have so many volunteer tomatoes each year.

Seeds you should not save and are better to buy are cucumbers, onions, leeks, carrots, beets, garlic (bulbs), potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cole crops. Most of them are bi-annuals and only produce seeds the next season. If left in the garden you can harvest the seeds next year. Cucumber and zucchini will cross-pollinate and potatoes may carry a disease.

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Most of the seeds produced in flowerbeds can be saved, especially annuals—as always, not hybrids. If you save seeds from perennials such as Shasta daisy, peony, or black-eyed Susan, they should be planted in the fall since they need the cold weather to germinate.

I have even saved impatiens seeds. It is fun to look for seedpods on the plant. When you touch them, they pop open and shoot out everywhere. I make sure I have an envelope or container to save them.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.