Appalachia Celebrating Appalachia Videos Gardening

Saving Seeds, Black Walnuts, and Granny

bean seeds

Over the weekend I gathered up all the seed pods I had drying on the front porch and hulled them out for winter storage.

We used to save seeds from the garden every year, but once Sow True Seed started sponsoring my garden I sort of let that chore slide saving only the seeds that Sow True Seed didn’t offer.

With the seed shortage a lot of people experienced this year fresh on my mind and Sow True Seed no longer sponsoring my garden I decided I better get back to seed saving this summer.

In my latest video I talk about seed saving and Granny’s great love for Black Walnuts.

I hope you enjoyed the video! Do yo save seeds? Did your parents or grandparents?

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  • Reply
    Auther E. Ray
    January 12, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    I save mustard, peas, collards, okra, tomatoes.

  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    October 27, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Saving seeds? You Bet !! I save seeds from year to year of my fav beans, okra, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, herbs and flowers. I usually use a paper towel nowadays and label with kind of seeds and date along with “ yummy” , “ delish” or whatever to jog my memory. When completely dry, and this is so, so important, they are stored in a chipped glass canning jar with a lid to keep bugs and mice at bay-stored in garage. Mama used pieces of old sheets or rags to dry her “ mater” seeds on. Come spring, she would flick seeds off and sow in her small plank walled bed with tiny nails spaced all around. She then hooked another piece of old sheet to make a covering to frost proof seedlings. Chicken mature from hen house was troweled in prior to seeding. This method never failed as I grew up. Daddy saved ears of corn from year to year also. A trait handed down from generation to generation. If the nearby town even had a seed store back then, it was an all day trip with a horse and wagon. So having your own seeds was a bonus and you knew pretty much what the results would be. Getting a tin can somewhere was a blessing in disguise as the can was used in the crib to measure out cottonseed meal for the animals or corn for the chickens. We had no trash or garbage to speak of; Use it up, wear it out or do without was a successful farm motto during the Depression and WWII for my folks.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 27, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    I save my seeds in medicine bottles. The amber colored plastic kind. I got the idea from my mother. No, she didn’t use those same plastic kind and hers weren’t even bottles. Does anybody the pill envelopes that you got from the doctors office. They opened at the end and had flap with a little tail that tucked back into the body of the envelope to keep it closed. Mommy always saved those to put her seeds in. She also used regular mailing envelopes but I thought those pill envelopes were unique.
    I can’t find even a picture of those envelopes. Does anyone remember them?

  • Reply
    Cheryl Christensen Bennett
    October 27, 2020 at 10:13 am

    We have tons of Black Walnuts on our NE TN property. Since we are somewhat newly from California, we don’t know a great deal about them. I have read how to make dye from them but was interested in what you said about your Granny. Could you do a short video on when to pick them up and how your granny cracks them before they turn mushy (what they look like) and then roasts them? If appropriate, maybe even make a video with granny explaining? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    October 27, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Enjoyed the video, especially nice touch with the rooster in the background after about three minutes. Didn’t know you could hull walnuts straight off the tree and dry them by the heater. Will have to try.

    In the mid 70’s, some sweet little ole lady would have black walnut pie for sale at the JCCFS Fall Festival over by the open house. Back then when October mornings were chilly, a small piece of that pie, very rich, and a cup of coffee–outdoors–was truly a gift from Heaven. I thought it was basically pecan pie with the walnuts instead. But when we have had enough picked-out walnuts to try, our results were no comparison. I would be most grateful if anyone could share that little angel’s recipe.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2020 at 11:19 pm

      My dad grew the best watermelons in the country. He grew Black Diamonds, which are dark rined and round; & Congos, long & striped. Well, guess what – they cross pollinated. Result was long, dark & still striped. They were delicious too. He just kept planting those in continuity.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 9:48 am

    My parents and grandparents always saved seeds. I remember them being laid out to dry before they were either folded up in paper with name written on or put in a little envelope and labeled. I have saved seeds from flowers and I put them in small plastic medicine bottles. My grandparents had black walnut trees and my parents had pecan. When I would be down south visiting, we would all sit around the table cracking the pecans and picking them out. Just a really enjoyable time. I love MS Purple Hull Peas but my garden is too small to grow them. I can just about taste a big plate of them cooked by my Mother. Yum, Yum.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Mom saved seeds from every plant in her garden, including flowers. I don’t recall her ever buying any seeds at the store. When she passed away, I took a half gallon jar of white half runner bean seeds from her freezer and planted some and refroze the rest. She put notes in her jars of seeds with a description and where she got them. She told a story about going to a yard sale and seeing some rare green beans drying on the hood of a car. She asked the homeowner if she would please sell her just one or two. The woman was rude and refused her request. Mom told that story for years. Mom was always so willing to share and couldn’t get over the woman’s attitude.
    I went to Lowe’s at the end of April looking for seeds, as they usually have the best selection. I was surprised and confused when I didn’t find the first pack of seeds. The clerk told me they were ordered to pull them all and return them to the suppliers. I learned a lesson that day. The store bought green bean seeds don’t produce as well and taste totally different from the ones I save.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    October 27, 2020 at 9:09 am

    I routinely save tomato seeds on paper towels. The membranes and liquid dry up. In the spring I plant the paper towel. It is a good growing medium. My seeds keep well in envelopes and paper bags which I then store in metal tins to keep varmints out.

    My Dad loved black walnuts. We gathered them in buckets from the many trees we have in Maryland. He used to drive over them to get the hulls off. I found an iron walnut cracker at an Amish market that I purchased for him. It made the job easier. His favorite cake was black walnut that my mother made. Unfortunately. I don’t like the flavor of walnuts. My Mom and Dad and I planted a pecan tree which is pushing it so far north. It does produce and is a mighty and beautiful tree now and a special memory.

    When I was a kid, I walked around the farm with Daddy when he planted 100 walnut saplings that he got from the ag service. He said,” I’m not planting them for me, I’m planting them for you.” The saplings grew tall, straight and big – some 65 feet in height. This year it was time to harvest them and thin out the woods. Indeed, he planted them for me, as the logs, which he meant for me to harvest, went to a mill in Pennsylvania for fine lumber. What a forward-looking man he was, caring for me so many years after he was gone.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Amazed to read JIMK’s post about seeds that did not reproduce. I had heard big rumblings of this about 6 years ago, and started looking and saving seeds from Heirloom only. I even had seeds saved from my grandfather’s collection which I have since lost. Rumors can sometimes be just rumors, but then there was an article or two that our government was trying to discourage saving these seeds on a local level. This all stopped being a goal or a rumor in recent years, and I got really lazy with saving seed and started decluttering big time. We need to be prepared with jars and heirloom seeds, and I am making up for lost time by saving and collecting heirloom seeds and washing up all jars. I really enjoyed the video on seed saving, and it is a good thing when we share of our knowledge of the old ways. I ferment and save tomato seeds on coffee filters and they dry well and rub right off. Thanks Tipper, now is your opportunity to be able to teach the old ways of survival right there on YouTube.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    October 27, 2020 at 9:01 am

    FACT: Most seeds are produced in CHINA which has NOTHING to do with US soil or growing and has led to GREAT FAILURE of most hobby gardeners. This in turn breaks down the ego and many stop trying after such a bad experience in which they did nothing wrong. BURPEE is the leading offender and his wicked buddies. I did use sow true seeds for my rye grass. Hoping for more if I’m alive in the spring. IF WE START A SEED EXCHANGE WOULDNT that be fabulous to make sure we all have access to GOOD SEED!?!?!I read about seed exchanges cropping up all over USA. Tipper, I hear the concern in your voice about your mother. It seems unfair to grow old. I find myself crying as my hands don’t do what I want them to do and my body betrays me. The heart is willing but the body may not be. The alternative to getting old is not great either…. old age is NOT FOR PUNKS OR SISSIES!!!!

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    October 27, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Good Morning Tipper…..I enjoyed your video!…..As Providence would have it, I was out walking yesterday in the woods when I came upon a small old grassy field….There in the middle of it were a couple big black walnut trees with fresh walnuts laying around as big as tennis balls…..I filled my day pack up with them and brought them home…..Your video gave me some good directions on how to process them!…..Thanks!…..It has been many years since my grandma, Alma, Mom’s Mom and I walked the Ohio River bottoms when I was a boy gathering walnuts…..I can hardly wait to taste them again.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 8:29 am

    I live in southern Greenville county, SC and because of the mild weather my green beans put on a second growth and we have been getting enough to have several messes over the last few weeks. After my crowder peas (Mississippi purple hull) made for the first time I mowed them down and within a few days I had volunteer peas coming up, I left them alone to see what would happen and now have blooms and runners on them. It will be a race with the weather. My grandparents would save black walnuts and pick them out at night during the winter. He would crack them and grandmother would pick them out. I have about 5 trees around my yard now that came from their trees but I usually don’t do anything with them. I can’t give them away. I never saved seed except for watermelon because I never had trouble getting the seed I wanted and didn’t think about a shortage. I keep all my seed in zip lock bags and have used the left over seed from one year to next without any problems.

  • Reply
    Sue Gregory
    October 27, 2020 at 8:29 am

    My Mamaw in Dickinson County, VA used to save her seeds every year, but I never got to see them as I lived so far away I could only visit during the summer when we picked the fresh beans, cakes, and tomatoes. I do remember the tiny little envelopes reused year after year for the same seeds. I’ve still never been able to grow what she called “Dickinson County” beans. They just tasted so different than anything today

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 27, 2020 at 8:12 am

    I don’t routinely save seeds. I can’t buy few enough to match my garden space so I am always working to use up the seed I have. And I usually want to pull the plants to get the space to replant.

    I have, though, let the mustard and turnip go to seed and let them reseed theirselves which is sorta seed saving I guess.

    I am saving some chive seed just now. I bought what was labeled as simply “chives” plants. To me that meant tubular blades and a mild green onion taste. Well, I got flat blades and a garlic taste. So a little goes a long way. I had it in mind to share the seed if I can find people who want them. Would you like some?

    Last year I gathered a 5-gallon bucket of walnuts. They hulled out to about 2 gallons of nuts. Those two gallons have made one, and may make a second, pint of kernels. (I actually used that experience in a Sunday school lesson I called “gleanings”.)

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    October 27, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Hi Tipper. I enjoyed your video. Though it’s a good idea, we dont save seeds. But I did save sunflower seeds this year. I almost didn’t find sunflower seeds this year, they were all bought out. Like Granny, we love black walnuts!

  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    October 27, 2020 at 8:01 am

    My folks saved seeds every year and had the best garden around. They also had peach, plum, and appletrees. Last but not least a concord grapevine. Needless to say, Fall was a very busy time of year.
    Tipper I felt likeI was sitting there visiting while you worked your seeds. Love this video so much. So warm and comforting.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 27, 2020 at 7:37 am

    I can remember my grandmother saving seeds. She spread the wet seeds out on paper and let them dry then she rolled up the paper and tied a string around it and wrote on the end what the seeds were. It was a very organized process for it’s time and she always knew exactly what she had.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Well…. Last year I saved some purple hull beans I dried out, but I was hesitant to plant them this year because I didn’t think it would work. I haven’t tried to save seeds of vegetables I’ve grown because it feels cumbersome in a small house with two little boys running around. But, I’ll try to reorganize and give it a go, likely next year as my garden is mostly done. I love that you made this video and that you talk about your Granny also. I hope you’re all doing well and that Granny gets to have lots more field trips. I’m sure she loves them. Also, do you know where I can get lady peas and crowder beans/peas? I haven’t seen any in any of the catalogues. Am I missing them?

    • Reply
      October 27, 2020 at 8:12 am

      I have saved seeds as my parents always did for years, but a few years ago I noticed my corn and potatoes didn’t come up. Before I retired I use to work about 3 months a year in Kokomo Indiana. DeKalb and several other seed companies are in production there. One had a museum I stopped at once, while talking to the guide I mentioned my trying to reuse seed for corn with little success.
      She informed me that her company and others genetically modify the seed for all cans of purposes one of which was so it wouldn’t reproduce.

    • Reply
      November 2, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you for the comments! Looks like Sow True Seed has crowder peas, but they’re sold out for now. They usually restock in early winter. See this page:

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