The Snarky Gardener built raised beds using hugelkultur
Hugelkultur is the German term for garden beds made with buried wood. The wood breaks down over time, providing garden vegetables with nutrients and moisture (as in you don’t have to fertilize and water as much, if at all!). The wood does not have to be brand new as rotted wood is actually better is some ways.
This fall, I decided to utilize this technique to build four 8 foot long by 4 foot wide by 3 feet high raised beds. In general raised beds are beneficial as they warm up earlier in the spring, keep humans (but not my dog) from compacting soil, and allow plants better drainage. Usually raised beds are built with a frame around the soil, but my beds have no borders. After completing each bed, I planted cover crops (turnips, spinach and clover) to minimize winter soil exposure. My long term plan is to convert more of my garden into hugelkultur beds, but wanted to perform a trial first, as putting these beds in is labor intensive, with all the wood gathering, moving, and burying.
The Snarky Gardener is managing his herd of Jacob’s Cattle beans. Learn how to save bean seed.
Saving bean seed is really easy. Allow your bean plants with the beans still attached to turn yellow and die off. Collect the seed pods. Open up the pods and there are your seeds. You will want to let these dry out completely before putting them in an airtight container (I use old vitamin bottles though glass jars will work also). Make sure to keep an eye on them over the winter as they could mold up if there was any moisture in them.
After I do my “shelling”, I like to divide them up based how they look. Some will be deformed or have some flaw that makes them less than perfect. These will be put into the “eat me” pile. Jacob’s Cattle beans are specifically “dry” beans (think kidney or black beans), but I do eat some green.
So, you might be asking “Why does the Snarky Gardener bother with saving bean seed when it’s so inexpensive to buy at the store or online?” In a word, adaptation. These plants grew up in my garden with it’s specific conditions. Plus beans make the soil better, especially through their nitrogen fixing nodules.
The Snarky Gardener shows you how to save tomato seeds using a 5 step process
1. Let the tomatoes ripen. The riper, the better. I usually seed save from tomatoes that are too far gone to eat. Remember, every year tomatoes fall off into the garden and “volunteer” the following season. What we are doing is speeding up the process by fermenting them in the house.
2. Cut open the tomato and scoop out the seeds. A spoon will be of good use to you here.
3. Put the seeds (and the pulp that will be with them) into a glass, mug, or jar. Add water. Cover with something that will let a little air in and keep the fruit flies out. For me, that means plastic wrap with a few holes poked in it. You will also want to mark each vessel with a label or write directly on it with non-permanent marker. It’s really easy to mix up multiple cups with tomato seeds in them.
4. Let sit for 3 days or so on a windowsill or somewhere else warm, swirling the “gunk” around once a day. You might notice some mold forming on the top. That’s to be expected.
5. After the 3 days, pour the liquid through a strainer and rinse the seeds carefully with water. Put the seeds at the bottom of the strainer onto a plate to let dry for a few days. For me, this usually takes a good “smack” to get the seeds onto the plate. I use plastic covered paper plates so the seeds don’t stick and so I can write on the plate what the seeds are. Again, it’s very easy to mix up your seeds, especially when you have 5 or 6 plates going at once. During the drying phase, you may want to break up any seeds globs that form so they don’t all stick together. The end result should be seeds that look like the ones you buy from a commercial seed house.