Seed saving beans

The Seed Saver’s handbook says beans are easy to save, so it seems a good idea to start out with them, in this case some Sutton Dwarf beans. The idea if you leave them to dry in the pods and then save the good ones. Beans are an easy win as they adapt over the generations to the local conditions; they don’t use insects for pollination and the book says the gene pool is kept wide to allow self-pollination.
Right off the bat the book says that

The first pods to form are the best for seeds. They are to be found at the base and are larger than subsequent pods, Allow these pods to dry on the bush, and choose those from the most vigorous plants. Such refined steps cannot be taken on a large scale where a whole field is combine-harvested and threshed.

Well, we don’t have a problem picking seeds out of the combine harvester we don’t use 😉

the good bean seeds
the good bean seeds

The guys that wrote that book are Australian, and I guess they don’t have a problem with saying you need to store seeds at a relative humidity of 5%.

Closing the conservatory door at about 9 was a good move, though I am a long, long way from 5%!
Closing the conservatory door at about 9pm was a good move, though I am a long, long way from 5%!

So I am writing on the evening of what has been a reasonably warm sunny day and I see the RH starting to skyrocket to 50% by 10pm and realise that I need to close the door to the conservatory because the dew comes in the evening as the sun goes down, not in the morning. 5% is going to be a tough call in the UK, probably involving silica gel. Interestingly the Seed Saver’s Handbook says good airflow is more important that high temperature, and it should not go beyond 35C anyway.

long bean pods give the best results
long bean pods give the best results

They’re right about those lower pods – long beans are definitely the place to go for the size of the seeds. You have to be pretty discriminating about the seeds, however.

It seems like there are some bad guys that want in there right away. Something’s drilled it’s way into the pod from the outside in this pic, presumably to lay eggs.

some critter after the beans
some critter after the beans

The Seed saver’s handbook says you can kill these by freezing, but why take the chance. I offed all of these bad goys

they had to go
they had to go

Anything looking a bit dubious quality-wise is also for the chop, like these ropey specimens

Just not up to scratch, IMO
Gnarly and just not up to scratch, IMO

I have about 50 winners at the moment. This is one of those long-latency projects that you don’t get to know if there’s any point to it for a long time. Any weevils I missed could nuke the lot, probably makes sense to store the seed in two jars to get some diversification, though 25 beans are going to look awful lonely in even the smallest jar!

Bean flowers - striking in their own way
Bean flowers – striking in their own way

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