Earlier this year, the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers (CVGSS) purchased a winnower in order to make seed cleaning easier for its members and for local farmers. A number of the Board Members had seen the winnower in action at a Seed Conference last November and we were greatly impressed.
I decided to take the winnower for a “spin” using the dirtiest seed I had on hand – lettuce. If you’ve never collected lettuce seed, you not only get a very tiny seed, but also a great amount of fluff and chaff that goes along with it. Think dandelion seeds, but not quite as pretty.
The winnower is entirely human-powered and although it’s easier to work with two people, one person can certainly manage it. The key is to keep turning the handle that creates the “wind” at an even speed and use your other hand to ensure the dirty seed keep falling down the hopper.
I used a Rubbermaid bin to collect the clean seed at the bottom of the winnower. It worked like a charm and is the perfect size for the two chutes where the seed fall out. A tarp is also necessary to catch the chaff that goes flying out the end.
When I started, my seed looked like this:
After one go through the winnower, with the aperture open somewhat wide to allow the fluff through, the seed was considerably cleaner and I hadn’t lost much seed, only the chaff.
This step took all of 7-10 minutes, A second go, with the aperture open only a crack, produced some very clean seed:
I quickly cleaned up the chaff by dumping the contents into the compost. In total, I think the whole operation took about 20 minutes, including stopping to talk to a family who came to see what I was doing and giving the little boy a go at turning the crank.
The Seed Winnower ‘lives” at Lush Valley at 1126 Piercy Ave (at 8th Ave) in Courtenay. If you’re interested in using it, please contact Alan Goodacre at firstname.lastname@example.org. The CVGSS will be hosting some seed cleaning parties so keep checking back and we’ll be posting dates soon.