Tag Archives: Seeds

How to Save Tomato Seeds

The Snarky Gardener shows you how to save tomato seeds using a 5 step process

1.  Let the tomatoes ripen.


2.  Cut open the tomato and scoop out the seeds


3.  Put the seeds into a covered glass or jar.  Add water.



4.  Let sit for 3 days or so, stirring once a day


5.  Strain seeds from the liquid and put onto a plate to let dry for a few days.


Food Not Lawns, Cleveland Fourth Annual Seed Swap


Saturday, January 25, 2014 – 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Grace Lutheran Church

13001 Cedar Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH

If you are interested in gardening, community, food security, permaculture, seed saving and sharing, this is the place for you!  Bring seeds (purchased or saved) if you have them, or consider what you might swap for seeds in goods or service, but come anyway.  We have a good collection and lots of information to share.  This year, we have signed the Safe Seed Pledge and will not knowing share GMO/Monsanto owned seed.

Joining us will be: Elle Addams of City Rising Farm, Judi Strauss, of The Charmed Kitchen, with herbs, books and more for sample and sale, Chris McClellan, of Natural Cottage Project, will demonstrate a rocket stove, gardeners of the Grace Lutheran Community Garden, and many more.

Refreshments are potluck.  Please bring a dish to share.  Also, collecting non perishable food donation for Hts’ Emergency Food Bank.  There will be a Freecycle table available to bring or take useful items.  Residue will be donated.

If you bring saved seeds, please label them with as much pertinent info as possible.  We will have envelopes and labels available.  New this year:  Seed Savers, who are willing, will be with their seeds at tables, to discuss traits, growing conditions, stories about them, and aspects of seed saving.  Donated seed will be available and asked to be considered a “loan” to be returned, if possible, the fooling swap.  The completed Saved Seed Inventory will be available for perusal, or check it out online at:


Freecycle info:   Please bring gently used ( or new) items to donate/swap.  If you have items left at the end of the day, take them home or leave them for donation pick­up Monday morning.

This event is free (donations gratefully accepted), child­friendly, on a bus­line and handicapped accessible.

Volunteers are needed to help set up and clean up.

Please contact Mari Keating @ beanpie55@att.net for more information

and visit foodnotlawnscleveland@yahoogroups.com

Food Not Lawns, Cleveland  Facebook group


Safe Seed Pledge


Because of my seed saving efforts, the Snarky Gardener has signed the Safe Seed Pledge, which states:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative,

We pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants.

The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”

This does mean I’ve stopped my evil experiments to create plants that are actually snarky (with snide remarks and sarcastic attitudes), but I think we’re all better off this way.

Let It Snow (twice)!

This fall we’ve had serious snow twice so far (several inches each time) here in Northeastern Ohio. While most people have not even thought about their gardens since the first freeze back in October, the early snow had me worried. Many of my fall duties were incomplete, including digging up and bringing in my rosemary herbs (they died out there last winter – sniff). Also, the fall leaves I gathered into big honking piles did not get as distributed as I would have liked. I found out this summer that some plants (lettuce, spinach, kale, turnips, peas, corn salad) could be covered with mulch 5 or 6 inches deep in the fall to “overwinter” them. Then in mid-March, you just pull off the leaves and viola, they will start growing again. Nifty trick having food producing plants when other unsnarky gardeners are still planning for the summer.  Anyways, I was finally able to finish these tasks on 12/4/2013 with most of my fall babies no worse for wear.

If you look at the pictures below, you will notice some of my plants didn’t do as well by December (especially the sad Swiss chard in the middle foreground). In the back left, my mustard is going to seed, which is good because I needed more for cooking and next year’s crop. But you will also see that there’s quite a bit of green considering it’s December in Ohio. On the right foreground, my purple top turnips are looking great. I will thin these out (yum) and mulch the rest in the next week or so. Also, near the Swiss chard, you should be able to make out bright green areas near the ground. That’s my corn salad and onions, all ready to eat. We used them plus mustard greens, carrots, and kale to make a wonderfully fresh salad (again, in December in Ohio).

P.S.  I don’t think “unsnarky” is a word, but with use it will soon become one.

Snow on 11/12/2013
Snow on 11/12/2013
Melted snow on 11/16/2013
Snow melted on 11/16/2013
Snow again on 11/30/2013
Snow again on 11/30/2013
Melted snow again on 12/04/2013
Snow melted again on 12/04/2013


IMG169 IMG164

Through my Internet wanderings, I ran across a mention of a site where people received free seeds – WinterSown.org.   I checked it out and decided to go through the ordering process as I just LOVE (XOXOXOXO) seeds (the more, the merrier).  WinterSown has developed and tested a system to start seeds outside without the use of expensive setups or even lights.  Just use recycled materials, starting soil, and the great outdoors (here are the instructions for use with a plastic gallon jug).

To order, just follow the instructions on the site, which is basically mail in a printed order form and a self-addressed stamped envelope (aka SASE) with two stamps.   With that, they will send you either the seeds of 6 randomly picked plants or 6 tomato seeds that you have chosen.  If you donate money via check ($5 minimum), you will get your order doubled (or more with a bigger contribution).  I mailed my order for 12 random seeds with a donation of $10 on 3/5/2013.  The site said it could be up to 4 weeks to receive the order but found my SASE in my mailbox on 3/21/2013.  The whole process reminded me of my youth, as I would wait by the mailbox for something I sent away for from the back of a comic book.  Of course sending in a check these days meant I could log in to my bank account every day to see when it was cashed (which of course I did).

Below are the seeds obtained from WinterSown.org

Red Pear Piriform tomatoes
Long Purple Eggplant
Danvers 126 Carrot
Petite Marseillais Pepper (2 packages)

Shirley Poppy
Dwarf Toadflax
Large Dahlia Mix
Evening Primrose
Shasta Daisy
Perennial Lupine

The timing of my delivery was perfect as we have been having a very long winter/spring this year in Northeast Ohio with snow on the ground 3/22/2013.  Last March we had temperatures in the 80’s and my garden was completely tilled up by April.  My understanding of the WinterSown process is the seeds react to natural weather patterns to start when the time is right.  With the use of protection and heat capture, the exposed seeds are able to germinate earlier and better than just sowing them in their final growing location.  I’m also trying a variation of this method by direct sowing my spinach seeds under 2-liter pop bottles.  My house is full of starts, so I’m out of room under the lights.

The WinterSown system is designed for early plants, like broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, herbs, wild flowers, and even root vegetables like carrots.  I was surprised by seeing carrots on the list as I didn’t think you could transplant those.  I’m guessing if you get them out in the garden before they create much of a tap root, you should be good to go.  In seasons past, getting them up before the weeds take over has been a Snarky Gardener pet peeve, so this sounds very promising.  I’m also starting Purple Top turnips to see if they will transplant.

Below are pictures my WinterSown sowing.  As you can see by the last picture, I decided to just place the milk cartons out in my garden.

Note:  Here’s the update from 4/16/2013

IMG157 IMG158 IMG159 IMG160 IMG161 IMG162

Food Not Lawns Cleveland Seed Starting Workshop – 3/3/2013


On Sunday March 3, 2013, I joined Food Not Lawns Cleveland for their seed starting workshop held at the Grace Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights.  It took me an hour to get there from Kent, but well worth it as nothing beats spending an afternoon talking about gardening (except actually gardening).  Though I’ve been growing food for a number of years, there is always something one can pick up.

Some things I learned (or relearned) at the FNLC seed starting workshop:
– Tomatoes can be planted outside in mid March with protection
– Arp Rosemary can overwinter in Ohio
– Plant petunias with broccoli to ward off cabbage worms.
– You can create your own hybrids by seed saving.
– “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food” is a very inspiring book (as you will see in future blog entries).
– I know enough about gardening to assist others (explained bush vs. pole beans among other things)
– I need a better camera with a flash.




After very little deliberation, I decided to start a Mesclun (aka French salad) seed mix.  After planting (as seen below), I realized the date on the seed package was 2005.  Lettuce is only supposed to have a one to two year shelf life.  But instead of just scrapping the whole thing, I made the choice to see what happens as life is full of surprises.





Three days later (3/6), much to my chagrin, the seeds were sprouting like nobody’s business.  Of course, the seeds had been sealed in a little metallic envelope, but even still, quite a surprise.



Food Not Lawns Cleveland Seed Swap – 1/26/2013

I spotted a Meetup.com post (in the Beyond Civilization Sustainability Group) for a seed swap Food Not Lawns Cleveland (FNLC) was hosting and couldn’t have been more excited (sad but true).  Pictured below are most of the seeds I received, plus some kale and Jerusalem artichokes.  With this mother load of genetic material, 2013 will be the first year I will do all my own starts instead of buying them (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  FNLC does ask that we produce seeds from these and share them at next year’s swap.  Hopefully I get a bumper crop and am able to give back to the cause.   This time around I was able to give as well as receive (mustard, kale, corn salad) as I tend to order too many seeds at a time from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (a packet is usually $3.45 and an ounce is $5.25 and since I have to pay shipping anyways . . .).

Seeds I received from Food Not Lawns Cleveland 1/26/2013
Seeds I received from Food Not Lawns Cleveland 1/26/2013

If you are interested in joining Food Not Lawns Cleveland, their link is http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/foodnotlawnscleveland/

If you are interested in reading the book that inspired the group, check out Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community