We have now gathered a wide range of seeds and this is an example of what happens next. These are seeds of the Heritage Climbing French Bean Mrs Lewis's Purple Podded. They stayed on the plant until the pods were "crisp" and were then shelled and fully dried off ready for the next stage.
We then outsorted any which we didn't think were of sufficient quality to use as future seed - too small, too wrinkled, split, brown etc. We also removed any that didn't "look right" - potential "rogues". These will not go to waste as most will be suitable for cooking (though a few will end up on the compost heap).
As this is a Heritage variety, we are committed to sending a proportion of the harvest to the Heritage Seed Library. It varies from year to year depending on the harvest and some years we have not been able to send anything because our crop has failed. This year we have decided we can send HSL 100 grams which is between 160 and 170 seeds.
We package them up and complete a Return Form describing where we have grown them, what problems if any we have experienced, and what we think of the crop both as growers and consumers. This information will feed in to the HSL database and be used to inform other growers. The seeds will be preserved but also distributed to other Seed Guardians and to seed swaps to ensure the variety is preserved and grown.
As well as choosing 100 grams for HSL, we have selected seed for us to grow at SCG and in our plot next year. We plan to grow 20 plants in each location so have selected 25 seeds for each place. This still leaves us with the "eating quality" seeds and a further 100 grams which can be shared out for others to cook, or packaged to be given away to visitors and the community at large. We also refreshed our reserve stock held in case of a future crop failure. This is a very satisfying output from an original sowing of 20 seeds especially as we have also harvested some of the beans as fresh for immediate consumption.