Gardening is about to get a lot more fun.

Owning open-pollinated, non-hybrid, non-genetically modified, heirloom seeds is the first step toward gaining food independence for you and your family. Planting those seeds would logically be the second step, but it’s actually third. Second would be doing a little homework to make sure that you are taking optimum advantage of your seeds and your garden.

Seeds are fascinating things. Ranging in size from mere dust-like particles to the size of a fist, seeds come in many shapes, sizes and colors. A seed’s growth is what brings a plant to life through the germination process. After soaking up water and swelling, a seed’s protective covering splits and the new plant within begins to grow by utilizing the seed’s store of food.

Following are a few tips for planting 10 different seeds and harvesting the resulting plants:

• The seeds of different types of Beans should be planted well away from each other whenever possible to avoid any chance of cross-pollination.

• When preparing Cucumber seeds for storage, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seedy pulp. Put the pulp and the seeds in a bowl of water to ferment. The heavy seeds will sink to the bottom, making it easy to drain and rinse them.

• Melon seeds are ripe enough to collect and store when melons are ripe enough to eat.

• When Spinach leaves begin to turn yellow, the seeds are nearly mature. The leafiest plants should be chosen for seed saving.

• When berries turn red and ferny top leaves flop over in the fall, Asparagus seeds are ready to harvest.

• In colder climates, Broccoli growth should be started indoors in the spring because the outdoor growing season might not last long enough.

• Don’t harvest the strongest Pea plants for food. Instead, allow pods to hang on the plants until the seeds are ripe and then harvest them.

• Squash seed is usually collected around the same time of the first fall frost. Allow the good seeds to dry for two weeks.

• Cabbage produces a tall stalk with yellow flowers in the second year. Seeds will be ready to harvest when the seedpods turn from brown to yellow.

• The black seeds from Onion plants are harvested by cutting off seed heads and then drying for several weeks.

If you’ve been gardening for any length of time, you’ve probably learned a lot. If you could share with us just one thing you’ve learned about gardening, we’d all be very grateful. Thanks.

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