Seed Swap Stories + Germination Progress

Now that we have some things planted I thought I’d share another template that we use to keep records. This form is for taking notes on seed germination.

So far most of the tomatoes have emerged, but we’re still waiting on most of the tomatillos and all of the peppers and eggplant.  The seeds that have performed the best and germinated fastest – Aunt Ruby’s, Cherokee Purple, Marglobe Supreme, & San Marzano – are all ones that my friend saved from the fruit of extra plant starts I shared with her in 2014.  In 2015 and 2016 she continued to save seeds from the strongest plants of each variety.  She lives about three hours away in Western NY, so our hope is that her seed-saving efforts in a nearby region with the same hardiness zone will have the best results yet.

We swap seeds and extra seedlings with one another every year.  For this season, I shared seeds from Katanya watermelon, Kansas melon, and du 18 Jours radish.  Last year we swapped beans (Good Mother Stallard, Snow Cap, Vaquero), sunflower (Mammoth Grey), and winter squash (Hubbard True Green Improved, Galeux D’Eysines).  It’s a little nerdy but it’s a great excuse to get together and gab about our plans and dreams over a cup of coffee.

Anyway, back to our note-taking.  You certainly don’t need to be so formal but we find it’s helpful.  Each winter we can review this information and, combined with crop yield records and notes about quality/flavor, it helps us decide what varieties to continue to grow and which to replace.

For example, last year we grew two different kinds of eggplant: Beatrice F1 and Fingerling.  I sowed 8 blocks of each, two seeds per block, and only two of the Fingerling blocks germinated compared to seven Beatrice F1.  In this case the Fingerling seeds were ones that my father-in-law purchased from a smaller local seed company and the Beatrice F1 were from a much bigger one.  While I would typically be wary of the company itself I also had almost 100% germination on various kinds of broccoli, turnip, kohlrabi, and radish.  So for now, no more Fingerling eggplant on our farm!

And this year, just from germination thus far I’m feeling excited about the 3rd generation home-saved seeds.  Time will tell if the plant growth and fruit quality match up.

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