The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of October 21 to October 28, 2021


Save Seeds of Favorite Vegetable and Flower Plants

Striped Paste Heirloom Tomato
Saving heirloom seeds, like this striped Roman paste tomato preserves both flavor and history.
Photo credit: photo courtesy of

Experimentation is part of the fun of gardening. Saving seeds from your favorite vegetable or flower for next year's garden or even the next generation is something you might like to try.

Keep in mind that all flowers and vegetables will not come true from seed. Hybrids and those pollinated by the wind or insects may produce offspring unlike the parent plant. The resulting surprise can add to the fun. Use heirloom or older varieties when looking for consistency.

Timing is critical. When saving flower seeds wait for the seeds, not the flower, to be full size and mature. This is usually when the seedpod, capsule or seed head that houses the seeds turns brown and brittle.

Collect these and separate the seeds from the surrounding structure. Spread them on newspaper to finish drying. Place the dry seeds in an envelope labeled with the plant name and date the seeds were collected. This will make spring planting much easier. Store the seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Consider saving a few vegetable seeds as well. Heirloom peas and beans are open-pollinated, so they form seeds that will grow into plants that are similar to the parent plant. Allow the peas and beans you plan on saving to dry on the plant. Once the pods turn brown and the seeds rattle inside, they are ready to harvest. This is about six weeks after you harvest snap beans for eating and about four weeks after the normal picking stage for peas.

Protect plants from frost or pull them out of the ground and hang them in a cool dry location, so the pods can finish drying if needed. Remove the pods from the plants and allow them to further dry indoors for about two weeks.

Remove the seeds from the dried pods, store in an airtight opaque container in a cool dark location. Label with the varietal name and date the seeds were collected.

Saving seeds from tomatoes requires a bit different preparation. Scoop out the gelatinous center of a ripe tomato. Place this in a container of water and let it ferment in a warm location for a week or two.

Then remove and compost the rather disgusting layer of fermented tomato waste and bad seeds floating on the surface. Pour the remaining water and the good seeds sitting on the bottom of the container through a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the seeds, removing any of the gelatinous material that may remain. Spread the seeds on a piece of paper to dry.

Once dry, place the seeds in an envelope labeled with the date and variety and set in a sealed jar or plastic container. Store in the refrigerator or other consistently cool location until it's time to start them for next season.

Start with these and then consider trying other flower, vegetable and even tree and shrub seeds. You'll find helpful information in books, online and on the Seed Savers Exchange website. Saving your own seeds can help you save money while preserving and planting a bit of gardening history.

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses "How to Grow Anything" DVD series and the Melinda's Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her web site is


More Hot-Selling Antiques

Chopin portrait

There've been some interesting stories from the antique and auction world since my last column. Here are some of the latest.

Artwork by Muhammed Ali recently hit the auction block here in the U.S. In early October, 28 pieces painted by the former Heavyweight champ owned by his friend Rodney Hilton Brown were sold, according to CBS news. "I had taken over a failing art gallery in Soho, and I was looking for a world class famous figure that could paint some paintings that we could make limited edition prints of and sell," Brown said. Ali agreed to help his friend and created paintings that were sold in Brown's gallery. Some of the subjects of Ali's paintings were religion, war, social justice and, of course, boxing. The collection sold for nearly $1 million and "Sting like a Bee," which depicts Ali in the ring with his arms raised over an opponent sold for $425,312.

This antique and antique story comes from across the pond. Collector plates typically have little value, but an antique plate that was tucked away in a Scottish woman's closet fetched a small fortune at auction recently. The British "Mirror" newspaper reported that the "the 16th century plate bear[s] a biblical scene by Italian artist Nicola da Urbino." The majolica plate of Samson and Delilah was said to have been tucked away in the back of a drawer and forgotten about. It had a preauction estimate of £80,000 (approximately $110,000 U.S.) to £120,000 (approximately $165,000 U.S.)." It sold for ten times expectations at £1.2 million ($1.7 million U.S.).

A badly deteriorated portrait of French and Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin recently made news when the owner had it appraised after owning it for 30 years. NPR referred to Chopin as a "matchless genius in the realm of keyboard music." A man purchased the painting of Chopin at a Polish flea market approximately 30 years ago, according to the New York Post. The painting was reported to have been painted during Chopin's life in the 18th Century. After hanging on the buyer's wall since the 1990s, financial concerns caused the owner to get the painting appraised. Dariusz Markowski, an art restoration expert and Nicolaus Copernicus University professor didn't reveal the appraised value but told the AP "it has significant historic and emotional value."

The Polish Press Agency's "First News" additionally reported that an unsigned portrait of Mozart sold for £4.4 million at a Paris auction in 2018. They also stated that "when the current owner discovered the true value of the small oil on canvas he was so astonished he crashed his car into a ditch." I hope you stay safe when you are on the hunt for treasures.

Our next multi-estate online auction will begin soon, and I will have more information about it in my next column. I'll be presenting on antiques and collectibles at FinnFunn Weekend in Troy, NH on Saturday, October 30th. My antiques night class takes place November 10th at Bay Path Evening School in Charlton, MA. I'll be appraising items virtually for the Townsend, MA Historical Society on November 13th. Please visit our website for more details on upcoming events:

Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services (508-612- 6111)