Garden lore

“Unless I’m missing out on something here, slug sex appears to be mightily different to human sex. The way slugs court is to circle each other for a while and produce a great big puddle of slime. Then, because they are hermaphrodite, they inject each other with sperm before slipping away to lay roughly three dozen eggs each.”

The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Niall Edworthy, (2006). )

Saving seed
If you are organised, you can save your own vegetable and flower seeds and save money but there are reasons why buying packets of seed can seem expensive. Saving seed is one of those jobs which is glibly recommended but takes some skill if you want to ensure success. Firstly and most importantly, save seed from the very best produce – not as an afterthought from a slow maturing or substandard specimen. If your crop is an F1 hybrid (and the only way to know that is from the original packet), seed will be inconsistent and patchy. You can stabilise a good seed strain over time but it will take a few generations. Sweet corn is often F1 (in other words it is the result of controlled pollination from two superior parents). Some tomatoes, cucurbits and cut flowers can also be F1s.

Clean the seed, label and date it. Pack it in paper and then store in a sealed plastic container with a sachet of silica gel or even rice, to absorb any surface moisture. So cool, dry, sealed, rodent-proof and mould-proof. The mice will find it if you leave it anywhere accessible. The fridge is a good place if your house partners accept your seed gathering ways.

Not all seed is dry seed. Some needs to kept on the damp side but not so wet that it rots. Generally these seeds have a fleshy coating (like belladonna seeds or cyclamen). It is often easiest to clean this seed and sow it immediately because it has a very short life span, especially if you allow it to dry out.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.