Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saving Seeds

Fall is the time to save seeds for next year, if you are a thrifty gardener. Separating the seeds from the plants can be very time-consuming, but I find it rewarding. Here are the seeds of sweet alyssum, so small that one source online states it takes more than 1.1 million to make a pound. This batch is what remained from a dishpan full of clippings of the small white flowers, seen below on the right. The process (the way I do it) involves drying out the clippings, then using various-sized strainers to sort the seeds from stems and casings. When I get down to just the seeds, I pack them up in small envelopes.

Of course, the alternate way is just to toss the dried clippings where you want to sow the seeds. They will, over time, fall out of their papery capsules into the soil.

Every flower has a different way of protecting its seeds. These Black-eyed Susans make cone-shaped seed heads that can be clipped and put in brown paper lunch bags to dry. Eventually the purplish-black, rod-shaped seeds fall out. Or you can rub the seed heads to make the seeds come loose. Here again, the volume of raw material to seeds ready for packing is somewhat amazing. No less amazing is the fact that each seed, about 1/8-inch long, will produce a plant two feet high with large, showy flowers all summer.

Purple coneflowers (Echinacea) have even a more formidable barrier of sharp points around the seeds, which resemble small wooden pegs. Here again, the seed heads can be dried in bags and eventually the seeds will fall out. Gardeners in a hurry can cut the seed heads apart with pruning shears and pick out the seeds.
Not realizing late summer temperatures would linger so long, I took cuttings of the double pink impatiens weeks ago. They grew roots in moist vermiculite and are now all potted up for wintering-over indoors.
Having grown up in a city where my main nature study resource was a vacant lot overgrown with chicory and Queen Anne's Lace, I treasure the time I am able to spend in the garden. And no matter what else takes place, it is reassuring to know that I have my seeds stored up and ready to go when the wheel of the seasons rolls back to spring.
--Bernice Paglia


Post a Comment

<< Home