Saving seeds is magical, economical, political and essential, all at the same time. It projects us into a future of abundance and security by nurturing our local food supply.
It’s spring! So it’s a great time to start with a small handful of beans. Check out www.grow-it-organically.com/green-bean-varieties.html if you need help to choose a variety. And then follow these simple steps.
Decide what quantity you want to save – for seed for next year, for eating green and maybe some for putting aside for a winter stew.
Choose a non-hybrid variety. If your local seed savers don’t have what you want, see the big range at www.aussieorganicgardening.com/2011/11/open-pollinatedseed-suppliers/
Set aside a number of plants in the row for seed only. At the end of the season when the plant has turned brown, remove these at ground level and hang them in a dry spot. Or, eat beans as the plants grow, and remember to leave some pods to dry out at the end of the season.
When the pods are completely dry and crunchy they’re ready to process for seed. Be careful with wet weather, as mould can ruin the seeds. During prolonged wet conditions, bring the entire plant or the pods selected inside to dry them out.
Shell the crunchy pods and remove any chaff. Keep the seeds in a paper bag until they are thoroughly dry. If bugs are present on the seed, freeze the beans in an airtight container for three days.
Beans will keep for three or four years and often longer, if they’re stored dry and kept in an airtight container (e.g. glass jar) in a cool dark place. Remember to label with variety, date and where grown. If you have spare, consider sharing.
So … happy growing, for many seasons to come!