It was a job that I'd been putting off for quite some time. Mainly because I'd never done this with seed so small and light, though in reality time had just slipped by in October to who knows where!
I'd harvested our Portuguese Cabbage seeds at least six weeks ago, and they had been in our polytunnel since. With the days drawing in, and nights getting colder and damper, our polytunnel wasn't the best place for these seeds now. If we'd left them here they would surely have germinated; several months too soon and at completely the wrong time of year! Brassica seeds are a pretty hardy bunch and a little cold is easily shrugged off!!
It was time to bring home all the brittle, sharp edged seed pods and their many thousands of seeds in a single brown paper bag. I left the bag and its contents to dry out for a further day in the warm utility room, and then it was time to do some winnowing.
It's an ancient craft, and having tried it myself with these gloriously dark brown and minuscule seeds I think the word craft is used wisely! Winnowing is basically separating husks from seeds, using an air current to literally 'separate the wheat from the chaff'... or in my case the seeds from the seeds' pods using some judicious pouted blowing.
It took some time, and then a little more time, and then a little bit more time again. The seeds chose to take flight like tiny cannonballs as I blew, speckling the kitchen surfaces with their minute grains of destruction... Richard would not be a happy bunny!! I decided it was time to give in and get the tweezers out; removing the remnants of virtually invisible stalks and broken seed pods by hand.
Admittedly I wasn't winnowing the whole day through, though it took much longer than I'd imagined when I started!
As I now drink my nicely brewed English Breakfast tea and look down on the smile in the seeds traced out by a finger, I too have a smile on my own face... and a new found respect for this winnowing craft. Yes, it was a bit of a chore though it also brought a semblance of purpose, fun and calm.
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 10
6/11/2019 09:12:29 am
13/11/2019 12:24:39 pm
Aime - I think as people had cold areas in their homes (ie before central heating) that seeds will have kept quite well in a tin. However I agree with you, glass jars are just great. I wonder if the National Allotment Society holds some sort of record - maybe not weekly though monthly? Be worth asking. 🤔
13/11/2019 12:22:12 pm
Maybe a bicycle-powered winnowing machine? However, I am sure there must have been one already! I read an article that said that if every running machine in the country POWERED the National Grid rather than taking power FROM the National Grid they would collectively generate enough power to give every person all their hot drinks power requirements each day. Now there's a thought... 🤔
6/2/2021 02:41:42 am
Dear Paul, when I showed my husband your Portuguese Cabbage blog lead photo, he thought he was looking at a crop circle. When I explained that you drew a smiley face on a plate full of Portuguese Cabbage seeds, he remarked "so it's not a crop circle created by aliens, it's a seed crop circle created by an Earthian. Hah!"
Paul Stephen Savident
6/2/2021 08:11:43 am
Yay for Earthians!! Drawing smiley faces in seeds on a plate is definitely I gift I have... though sadly not a service anyone wants to pay for!! 🤣
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...long term partners.