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Harvesting seeds from your groceries

 
master steward
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My sweet potatoes weren't much to brag about last year so I bought a locally grown organic sweet potato from the store last month.  Buried it 75% in potting soil in a salad green container (actually two containers, upper one with drainage holes, lower one without).  I "planted" it 3/20, the first sprouts appeared 3/31 and this is what it looks like today.  When they get a bit taller I'll break them off and pot them individually in 2.5" pots until it's time to move them outside.

I did also try one of my best looking crappy potatoes from last year and you can see it molding away in the left corner of the container.
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Love this topic and have been doing it for years.

* A bag of raw unshelled peanuts. Only plant the whole ones, can fill a plot for just a couple of dollars.
* Practically any of the dried bean varieties are able to grow.
* Coriander, celery seed, etc from the spice aisle will also grow so long as they are whole seed.
* Mango, apple, peach, any of the stone fruits will spout as well if you provide the dormancy conditions.

The other great benefit is those you don't plant you can cook up and eat in some form or fashion!

This is an old article but it deserves a place of honor in the forums.
 
master pollinator
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I just bought some dried White Mulberries.  Do you think they might grow if planted?

https://www.heb.com/product-detail/navitas-naturals-organic-mulberry-berries/1471540
 
john mcginnis
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I just bought some dried White Mulberries.  Do you think they might grow if planted?

https://www.heb.com/product-detail/navitas-naturals-organic-mulberry-berries/1471540



80/20 chance they will not. Depends on how the packer dried them for how long at what temperature.  But what do you have to lose? Slap a couple of berries in some potting soil and see what come up! :)
 
gardener
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Tyler. I lived latitude 30 Centex for many years. Had very good success with seeds from Mexican peppers & Mexican squash from HEB.

Send me some enchiladas & we'll call it even:)
 
pollinator
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A tomato plant that grew from a supermarket seed in compost has survived my entire Adelaide winter despite nights dropping to 3 degrees C/ 37 F. Whilst other people are germinating seeds right now I have a very tough plant 1' tall that'll produce tomatoes possibly in Spring!

If it works well I might plant tomato plants during Autumn each year rather than Spring. We go through stress for 'economic efficiency' (plant spinach instead so that you double your crops in the same space), but less efficient methods can be much more enjoyable and easier.
 
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If it works well I might plant tomato plants during Autumn each year rather than Spring. We go through stress for 'economic efficiency' (plant spinach instead so that you double your crops in the same space), but less efficient methods can be much more enjoyable and easier.


The ideal is to plant your harvested tomato and pepper seeds in among the spinach or other greens so they are sheltered by cold tolerant annuals which will reach maturity and be removed about the time most people start their transplants.
One of our co-op directors had a low tunnel full of cherry tomatoes. at the end of the season she pulled the spent plants and closed it up for the winter. The soil was covered in fallen tomatoes so when she opened it to plant the next spring there was a solid carpet of little tomato plants ready to transplant. The natural way to plant the nightshade family is to let the fruit rot on the ground.

I wanted a summer ground cover to keep the ground open so I could transplant raspberries in the winter. I bought a bag of bird seed and sowed it on the bare ground, mulched it with grass clippings and watered it thoroughly. I now have ripening about ten times as much millet, sorghum, thistle and sunflower seed.
The golden flax and lentils dried out early so I only have about as much as I planted to harvest for the chickens. My old hens have become experts at recognizing seed heads and pods to thresh their food so all I have to do is through the mature plants in the tractor to feed them.  They are working their way through the dwarf apple orchard now eating the wheat that came up where they buried seed they missed. This process started when a friend plantd wheat for a cover crop but then was not able to plow it in the spring. I mowed it with my scythe and stacked it in the barn to throw them a bundle each day.

Don't work any harder than necessary. let things reproduce as they naturally do.
 
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Tim Kivi wrote:A tomato plant that grew from a supermarket seed in compost has survived my entire Adelaide winter despite nights dropping to 3 degrees C/ 37 F. ....

If it works well I might plant tomato plants during Autumn each year rather than Spring.


I am also southern hemisphere and have SO MUCH trouble with tomatoes (insects that drill the stems and wilt the whole plant. I've tried most everything I dare to and essentially stopped growing tomatoes). I left my garden basically untouched from early June to right about now because of some travel, and I have a few volunteer tomatoes from the compost that are full of fruit (one grape tomatoes, one "normal"). They survived 2 strong frosts at least, which appear to keep the bugs away. I would usually be starting tomatoes right now (if I dared). I'm excited!!
 
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I read through most of this thread this past week. tonight I spent 3xs as long at the grocery store as I usually do because I was checking out the seed supplies! I found whole cumin, fennel and dill seed, like an ounce each for 99 cents. I also picked up some lentils and garbanzo beans to experiment with as winter cover crops.

I looked longingly at the mixed nuts whole in their shells but have heard that especially almonds are treated in some way that prevents sprouting. Anyone know if that's true?
 
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Maybe I try planting kidney beans gotten from the store along with my Jade bush beans.
 
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I just bought soap nuts for the first time, and curious, asked the guy if you can grow them.  He said sometimes you find the seeds left in with the husks (which is what you use for washing) delved around and came out with one.  So this is my new variation on the "grow your groceries" project!
 
pollinator
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You all are so enthusiastic!  I'm excited to try some of this.  Especially using bean mix for ground cover crop.  I will be getting some from Bob's next time I'm there and using it for sure.

I bought some squash from a local pumpkin patch and want to save the seeds to plant next year (although I can't see planting them all - I got so many).  I rinsed them and have them drying now.  Do I keep them in a jar in the cupboard?  Freezer or fridge?
 
Mike Haasl
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Once they're fully dry (break when bent) put them in a cool dark place.  Fridge is good, freezer is great.  Anything will work for a year or two but best long term storage is the freezer for most situations.
 
pollinator
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Sonja Draven wrote:You all are so enthusiastic!  I'm excited to try some of this.  Especially using bean mix for ground cover crop.  I will be getting some from Bob's next time I'm there and using it for sure.

I bought some squash from a local pumpkin patch and want to save the seeds to plant next year (although I can't see planting them all - I got so many).  I rinsed them and have them drying now.  Do I keep them in a jar in the cupboard?  Freezer or fridge?



I store my squash seeds in paper bags in the basement in Montana. It's a relatively cool dry place. They last at least five years since that's the longest I went without planting them.
 
steward
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To follow up... About 8 months ago I planted hardy kiwi seeds from fruits obtained in my local grocery store.  They germinated quickly, and grew for the summer in pots, even though I didn't water them reliably. Today I transplanted them into a field in a clump. So we get to see if they truly are "hardy" kiwi. .

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Kiwi plants, about 3 months after planting seeds.
 
Sonja Draven
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Those are gorgeous, Joseph!  I hope they are hardy for you.

Thanks for the replies, all.  I will go the freezer route since it is really hard in the PNW to keep anything consistently dry.  Is it okay to preserve/keep all seeds in the freezer?
 
William Schlegel
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Sonja Draven wrote:Those are gorgeous, Joseph!  I hope they are hardy for you.

Thanks for the replies, all.  I will go the freezer route since it is really hard in the PNW to keep anything consistently dry.  Is it okay to preserve/keep all seeds in the freezer?



Most seeds can be kept in the freezer if properly dried first. There are some important details to freezing seed. Freezing reduces viability a bit but extends it to as much as twenty years or more. When you take seed out of the freezer, it's important to let it warm to room temp before opening, otherwise moisture will condense on the seed damaging it. Consult Carol Deppe's book "breed your own vegetable varieties" for in depth details. She gives techniques for properly drying them down first- and she lives in the PNW.

There is a important caveat to freezing seed and that is a type of seed known as Recalcitrant seed. The acorns of oak trees are a good example of this. They can't be dried down, you have to store them moist in the fridge. I use a damp paper towel. If they dry they die. Though as with many things, I've noticed that arid climate oaks have acorns that seem to dry down quite a bit more than ours. I've also heard that some tropical and subtropical seeds are recalcitrant.

It is true though that most seeds can be dried down and frozen- if you follow the rules. In fact recalcitrant seeds are pretty rare in Montana where I live and the PNW where you live. Mostly oaks and tropical fruits from the grocery store I want to raise as houseplants. Wouldn't be surprised if avocadoes were recalcitrant.
 
Sonja Draven
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Thank you!  This is all helpful and I put a hold on that book at the library.
 
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I've been saving gourd, squash, and pumpkin seeds for years. I rinse the seeds a couple times and then dry them on a  paper towel. When they're dry I carefully stack them on top of my tomato and other paper towels full of seeds. My tomato seeds I don't rinse so they stick. The seeds above, since they are rinsed, don't stick The reason I say carefully stack them. They're fine the following spring, I never tried growing them in later years. I'm going to test that next spring as they raided the pumpkin patch this fall. I don't save seeds from hybrids, so don't buy hybrid seeds any longer.

I've found that if I leave gourds and pumpkins in the garden they come up next spring on their own. If I leave any of these varieties unfenced they don't come up. I think they get eaten. I've seen 16" pumpkins disappear over night, nothing but the stem left.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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As a followup regarding the hardy kiwi that I transplanted into the field recently. Something (mammal I think) destroyed every plant. I'm looking forward to watching the local grocery store for more fruits.
 
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Viable supermarket seed:
Coriander, fennel, fenugreek, papaya, cumin, 'black cumin'.
Every type of grain and bean.
Almonds, raw shelled peanuts, macadamia-in-the-shell.
Galangal, turmeric, ginger.

Poppy seeds for eating are irradiated in Australia, but still have a 1-5% germination rate and the seed is all from Tasmania's industry.
 
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I tried those long, Italian red peppers from one I had in spring and they did so well. So I have saved everything tasty for this yesr including two types of dates which, if tthey grow, I will sell on as palm trees. Watch this space!
 
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I have read that many spice seeds are treated with some kind of gas to prevent them germinating. I do know that I have not succeeded in getting cardamom seeds to germinate, nor star anise, nor malagueta (West Indian bay). On the other hand, my huge crop of cilantro a couple years ago came from a jar of coriander seeds from the spice aisle.
 
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I read somewhere that potatoes from the grocery store have been sprayed with a chemical to retard budding.

Any experiences with this?
 
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Some potatoes are indeed sprayed with a sprouting retardant. When you try growing those, you will see some roots and a gnarling mass of tiny potato-like growths. Organic potatoes are not supposed to be treated, but sadly I've had gardeners who report that they were, based upon the failure to properly sprout.

The main risk of using store bought potatoes is not that may not sprout, but that they may introduce early or late blight into your garden soil. Once it's there, it's difficult to live with.
 
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I have germinated grocery store chestnuts by putting them in a container with a moist medium. I wonder if the supermarket refrigeration counts as cold stratification? Also jerusalem artichokes, ginger, potatoes and garlic are pretty easy to sprout. Next I might try horseradish root.
 
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After reading that I could actually grow ginger and turmeric as perennials in zone 8 i decided to try with some grocery store bought tubers. I soaked them for about a week in a shallow bowl changing the water every day until some little sprouts appeared on the ginger. It's growing pretty good now. I'll take a pic of it in the morning. The turmeric hasn't sprouted out of the soil, but it did look like it was still alive when I put it in the pot.
I did read beforehand that grocery store ginger may be sprayed so it wouldn't sprout, but it worked alright for me.

 
Fish Farley
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here's a shot of the ginger sprouting
camphoto_1804928587.jpg
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Fish Farley
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It took about 2 weeks in water for the ginger to develop sprouts. I then put it in soil and here it is a month later.
ginger.jpg
[Thumbnail for ginger.jpg]
 
Kai Walker
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Excellent! I read that store bought items are chemically treated to resist growing your own.
Might have to try that next year.
While Ginger is nice I think I might prefer a 'MaryAnn' myself.
Need a little something different...

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=mary+ann+plant&qpvt=Maryann+plant&FORM=IGRE
 
Joseph hackett
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Ive sprouted non organic ginger on two seperate occasions so i dont think they are sprayed
 
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Y'all are way cooler than I am. I can be so set in my ways, insisting on buying seed or collecting from plants I've grown... Thank you for reminding me to open my eyes and look outside the box!

Luckily my partner is pretty cool, too, so at his prompting we saved seeds from several kinds of winter squash -- homegrown and store-bought -- last year that we've already seeded, along with beans like teparies we purchased in big bags intended for eating. We saved seeds from various peppers we bought and gleaned (a bunch of Hatch-types fell off the harvesting truck outside some organic fields last year and got over-ripe in the sun, so we picked a few up and saved their seeds) last year, but we didn't manage to get any growing this year. We'll try again. I want to try some of them as someone said in this string, seeded directly in the fall alongside spinach and other cool season greens to be cold-stratified and then sheltered by the greens as they start to come up in the spring. Did I understand that right?

Anyway, I have a sprouting tray going right now, mostly for things I'll try keeping inside this winter (so far two kinds of Passiflora, some Clitorea ternatea, basil to keep inside, bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and cumin (Cuminum cyminum) from seed packets, and some seeds from the most delicious of the prickly pears growing near us), so I just raided my spice stash and have questions.

r ranson wrote:Not sure if peppercorns or fenugreek are seeds, so doing a germination test on them.


How did this turn out, Raven? (I looked through the string and didn't see a follow-up. Sorry if I missed it!) I read that peppercorns are seeds and can be sprouted. "For best results, soak seeds for a day or so to promote germination and soften seed coat. Seeds should be sown lightly beneath the surface of the soil-medium, approximately ⅛". Keep soil warm and well-moistened while awaiting germination." It also says, "Piper nigrum can also be used to produce white pepper by removing the dark outer seed coat, or green pepper by harvesting and drying immature seeds." So, if I have some white peppercorns, should I try just seeding that, since it's already missing its seed coat? Or do you all think that would drastically lower its viability over time, sitting out there in the world all uncoated and such? I'll soak some black peppercorns as well. I guess I won't bother with the green peppercorns, since they're "immature."

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I grew fenugreek this summer from seeds sourced at the grocery store. I harvested the seeds about a  month ago, and threshed them today. I got about a teaspoon of seed. That's a big win, since that is about 15 times more than I planted. I grew them as transplants. Next time, I intend to direct seed them in early spring.


I read that some fenugreek is capsuled ground seed, but what I have seems to be whole seeds. I may try some in the spring. Joseph, did you end up direct seeding it since you wrote that? How'd it do?

I read that allspice (Pimenta dioica) grows from seed -- two are within each berry -- but "they must be sown immediately after gathering since they will lose viability after two months of storage." Has anyone tried this to see if there's any point in trying to germinate older seed?

It seems like this may be even more true of nutmeg/mace (Myristica fragrans). I found this: "Only fresh, moist nutmeg seeds germinate well. Unfortunately, nutmeg seeds dry out quickly. If left uncovered at room temperature, a nutmeg seed can lose its ability to sprout in as little as seven days. For best results, plant your nutmeg seeds promptly after harvest. When immediate planting isn't possible, store the seeds from your nutmeg plant in sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator. There they will stay viable for up to 45 days. No matter when you're ready to plant, soak your nutmeg seeds for 24 hours in clean water first to increase moisture levels and raise germination rates." So... I'm guessing old dried whole nutmegs wouldn't do the trick?

I think I read up-thread someone mentioned something similar about star anise (Illicium verum), and this seems to confirm that: "Star anise trees (Illicium verum) grow easily from seed that has been recently harvested and germinate best if they're planted within three days of harvesting." But I think I'll try anyway, because we're even in its hardiness zone range here.

I looked at cloves (Syzygium aromaticum), but holy crap! "Clove trees require a minimum of 50 to 70 inches of annual rainfall per year as well as a temperature range that never drops below 59 degrees Fahrenheit." I don't think we can maintain such conditions even inside year-round as a houseplant! Maybe someday when we build that sunroom...

Anise seeds (Pimpinella anisum) might do nicely for us outside since they like a Mediterranean environment and alkaline soil. Has anyone tried it?

I got out the golden and brown flax seed, but I think that unless we get a few nice late winter/early spring rains right as the ground is warming up next year (very rare here), our hot dry springs would probably zap it. I may try anyway. We don't bother seeding amaranth because so much Palmer's grows around here anyway (my partner tried a domesticated variety years ago but it struggled, unlike the very happy Palmer's), but I've been thinking of trying some quinoa next year. I seeded a bunch years ago in upstate New York. It grew nicely, but I don't think I ever figured out how to thresh it. We did eat the leaves like lamb's quarters. Have others tried growing it for seed, and if so, how do you process it?
 
Beth Wilder
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:If you buy bulk "hibiscus flower" often there are seeds in it.  It's also called "roselle" and "biesap" and "agua de Jamaica".  The seeds germinate readily, but they've never flowered for me.  I think they need a longer growing season.  And should you be lucky enough to get the plant to flower, it is not the petals you want, but the fleshy sepals that are under the petals.  The part that in most plants is green, the thing that is on the outside when the flower is in bud stage.


Living near the border, we have access to a great Mexican grocery with a neat bulk section of herbs, spices, teas, and things. I had gotten some hibiscus there for tea but never would have thought to check for seeds. Thanks for the great idea, Thekla! I just went through what I have and found 34 seeds! I had also gotten some whole tamarind pods there. I just nibbled on some of the tart-sweet pulp to extricate five big seeds. I'm going to soak all these overnight and put them in seed starting mix tomorrow. I know it's really not the right time of year for this, but our monsoon always makes me feel like trying to grow everything.

As an aside, I grew several kinds of hibiscus years ago in south-central Wisconsin, from plants I bought or bartered for at market. They died back in the winter and came back in the spring, with a little mulch protection. They did flower, for at least two or three years (I'm not sure what happened after I moved). I didn't know at the time that the part I wanted for tea was the sepals, so I collected the dried petals and tried to make tea out of them, to little effect... It's really good to know where I went wrong, Thekla, thanks again!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I direct seeded fenugreek this spring. I observed that it is super cold tolerant, and I planted it early, so it thrived. I noticed on Saturday that it is ready to be harvested.
 
Beth Wilder
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OK, y'all, I have another question. I ordered some Szechuan peppercorn (Zanthoxylum spp. -- I'm not sure which one) earlier this year for making a Chinese Five-Spice mix for my fermented version of Karen Solomon's Five-Spice Pickled Carrots. I think it was a post somewhere on Permies that inspired me to look through the bag for seeds. It was a high-quality product, so I didn't find too many, but I did find a few. I read here and here that they require cold stratification, so I was going to stick some seeds in a bag with some moistened glassified cow manure my partner made in his pottery kiln at one point (instead of perlite or vermiculite) and put them in our solar cooler for a few months. But then I realized maybe I could do this the way I'm planning to do peach pits: stick them in potting mix in a pot outside in a sheltered place in the fall and let them cold stratify there (actually, the first growing guide link above says, "Best is to sow Sichuan pepper seeds in fall, when the pepper is harvested," but that's all it says). Has anyone tried growing Zanthoxylum spp. trees, and if so, did you do it from seed, and if so, how did you do it? :)
 
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Yes, I tried growing Zanthoxylum from seeds found in the whole spice sold in the Himalayas, but I never got any germination. I tried simple low tech stratification, which works for me with several other things, like fruit trees and capers.

I read that the Szechuan peppercorns imported to the US are treated to prevent the spread of some plant disease (citrus related? I forget) so they are unlikely to germinate.

However, at least one species of Zanthoxylum is native to North America and grows wild, and people seem to say the various species of that genus all have similar flavours and culinary uses, though not exactly the same flavour.
 
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