Saving Seeds and Making Pickles

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Greetings from the hermit’s nest where I am working feverishly, both figuratively and unfortunately quite literally through what I can only describe as a marathon of deadlines. This summer has revolved 100% around gardening and food, a focus that promises to continue through the fall and well into winter. Actually I’ll still be at, although hopefully not quite at this pace, come spring. When I’m not in a garden taking pictures, I am sitting at a computer writing about gardening or I am in the kitchen cooking. When I am not doing any of those things I am thinking about doing those things, or rather, freaking out about NOT doing those things.

The irony of all of this is that it is pushing me further and further away from my own actual gardens. I’m in them more as an observer then as a gardener. I’ve been able to accomplish the bare minimum and have had to let the rest fall to the wayside. Boo.

Anyways, all complaints aside, I have managed to find a minute here and there to get in touch with the happenings that are taking place on the roof and in the community plot. I’m still harvesting some of the straggling late summer crops and if the weather holds I should have another crop of late tomatoes coming through soon. My ‘Green Grape’ plant has been producing non-stop. I fell in love with that variety last year causing a complete turn around on a long-standing distaste for green tomato varieties. I grew it in a larger container this year to see how it would perform and it has been outstanding. I’ve added ‘Green Grape’ to my list of varieties worth growing in a garbage bin.

Seed saving season is in full swing and I’ve been taking some time here and there to collect for next year while also harvesting seeds such as dill and coriander for eating rather than growing.


2008 can best be described as The Year of Dill out on the roof. At least a hundred dill seedlings sprung up in the spring and proceeded to flourish due to a record-breaking wet growing season. I honestly can’t keep up with the amount of dill seed that is maturing right now and have had to find a few stolen moments to process seeds in order to avoid being buried alive underneath the masses of seed heads that are collected nearly ever day. Keeping them under control now also means less seedlings to contend with come spring. We’ve had our fill of dill and I am guessing that it will be years before we can appreciate the flavour of fresh dill with our meals again. Yep. Sure is tough having so much bounty!

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Still, the timing for dill seed perfectly coincides with pickle season. 2008 was a terrible year for cucumbers so I’ve decided to focus on making mixed vegetable pickles. They’re turning out great. We consumed a whole jar in only a few days. It didn’t even get a chance to mature into its full flavour. I can’t wait to taste this batch in a month. My favourite new vegetable to pickle is ‘Black Radish.’ ‘Black Radish’ is a large radish that is black on the outside and white on the inside. It reminds me of a cross between a radish and a turnip but without the turnip flavour. They’re quite spicy raw, however the hot water processing cooked the radish slices slightly making them soft and succulent. I plan to grow lots next year now that I know how good they are…. Next year…. what a joke. Gotta make it through this one first!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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9 thoughts on “Saving Seeds and Making Pickles

  1. Ciao Gayla-

    Would you consider a trade of some of your dill seed for some of my fennel seed? I have a boatload of fennel seed, but I could really use some more dill for the beans I’m processing right now. Let me know? I could definitely give you a ziploc snack bag full of fennel.

  2. Gayle, how does the green grapes taste compare to a black or red tomatoes? I have never grow green tomatoes before, but I think about it often. As for the dill plants, I have let mine go wild and what seeds I don’t use I have notice that the birds enjoy
    eating. Which is great, because they also eat the bugs that happen to be in the garden to.

  3. To Sorelina: don’t whatever you do, grow dill and fennel at the same time. They cross-pollinate and you get this weird hybrid that is tasteless.

  4. Gayla! Once again how I wish I lived closer.

    I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say THANK YOU for being such an inspiration — truly.

    This website (amazing) — the book — the photography — and your fantastic writing. How you do it all I’ll never know!


  5. Tamara: Green tomatoes will never hold a candle to black tomatoes in my opinion… but I am partial. I can’t say I’ve come around to all green tomatoes but I really like ‘Green Grape’, most especially in salads.

  6. I know what you mean about fresh dill, a little goes a long way. I need to try the mixed pickle thing, it sounds like a good way to use up all the seeds.

  7. Love the pics!

    I want to have a herb garden…next year…hopefully not a joke. :)

    I’ll be back to read more.

    Now I need to go pick some tomatoes.

  8. Ugh must be nice. Down here in the south my dill and coriander wont even grow yet. Still too hot for them. I have to wait another month before starting my seedlings.

  9. Thanks Gayle for the infor on the Green ones. As for the Black I’m with you on that. I don’t think I will every grow anything other than those types and everybody I know or don’t know that I’ve shared my tomatoes with, love the black ones too and wont even take the others now.

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