Deadheading plants is a nice task, almost mediative, and it keeps plants flowering for longer. However, if you want to collect seeds from your favourite plants, you have to let the flowers go to the next stage and produce seeds.
The advantages of collecting your own seeds are many:
- You get free seeds, which is the first reason for many of us, but there are other advantages.
- We can grow a wider range of plants. Many seed companies produce a limited range, based on popularity. But saving and swapping a wide range of seeds with other gardeners, maintains diversity.
- Collecting seeds from plants in your garden is a good bet, you know they grow well in the conditions there.
- Because I don’t use pesticides, I know that seeds from my own plants will be organic.
Plants to collect seeds from:
- and Tomato seeds are all easy to save and store.
Tips for collecting seed.
The best time to collect seeds is late morning or in the afternoon on a sunny day, so they’ll be nice and dry.
Gather the spent flower heads, which will be brown and dry, in paper bags or envelopes. Remembering to make a note of what they are as you go along.
Take them inside out of full sun, give the bag of flower heads a firm shake, to release the seeds. Then tip them onto white paper, so you can see them more easily, and pick out the bits of husk and stalks.
How to Store Seeds:
The two things that reduce the life of stored seed are moisture and warmth.
Make sure the seeds are properly dry before storing in a well sealed container, moisture reduces their life.. Kilner jars have good seal, and jam jars are good too. They can be stored in a fridge, if you have enough room. A cool, dry place works just as well, although not always easy in our centrally heated homes, and sheds and garages can get very cold in winter. My summerhouse is insulated, so I’m going to use that this winter.
Seeds surrounded by soft, fleshy fruit need washing in a sieve, under cold running water. Gently press the flesh on the side of the sieve to help separate them. Once this is done, spread them out on a a piece of kitchen paper. When dry, fold up the paper, label and place in a sealed container. In early spring, simply spread the paper on a seed tray of moist compost.
I’ve been a bit laid-back about seed storage. But they are precious little things, so it makes sense to look after them and get the most out of them, extending their viability.
It’s good to have things to look forward to, and small things like collecting seeds, brings hope to these weird times.
all photos: Jill Anderson