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It’s mid-August and several varieties of seed are ready to be collected from the garden. Here’s how I’ve learned to do it over the years–no special purchases required.
My number one tool is a large paper bag. I cut dry plant stalks and dump them head first into the bag as fast as I can. It’s important to use paper, not plastic, so any moisture can evaporate. Plus, the rattle of new seeds hitting the stiff paper makes me very happy–a good sound.
Now I get out my second favorite tool, a sharpie. I label the paper sack and set it on a covered porch (where our dog can’t get to it). It cures there for a couple of weeks while stalks dry and a few more pods release their seed.
The next step is cleaning my seeds. I give the bag a good shake, remove the stalks to the compost, and dump the contents of the bag onto sheets of newspaper. That’s tool three–thanks N&O. Use your fingers to cull out the seeds, pushing them into the newspaper crease which is totally conveninet for funneling seeds into their storage containers, tool four, small jars.
Pimento jars are great for this since the wider the jar mouth, the better. Pour in your seeds and label with your sharpie. I just write the name on a piece of paper and drop it in the jar.
Don’t cover yet. Again, moisture is the enemy when saving seed. Set the open jars aside and out of direct sun light for a couple of weeks. Then you have seeds to that are ready sow, save and share.
Speaking of sharing–blog partner Melissa and I want to do a seed swap this fall, so start planning and saving your seeds now.
(And–If you’re on the list for rain lily seeds, don’t worry. I’m already collecting. )
As you clean up your beds throughout the season, try to get in the habit of saving seeds. It’s thrifty, green and great way to share your garden with others. Saving seeds is also really, really simple.
Ok–you can buy some gear for the process likes screens and special envelopes if you like gear. But saving seeds is a no-brianer– the way humans stopped being hunter-gathers and began cultivation, If I remember my history lessons. You don’t need anything special to do this.
My seed saving tools are:
- Garden clippers or scissors
- Paper sacks–I like the ones from Capri Flavors Italian Market because they are a good size and stay open well–and I like to shop there.
- Marker or pencil
- Let some plants in your garden GO TO SEED. This means a pod will form where a flower was and the pot will fill with seed. Basically, you do nothing.
- Still doing nothing–let the pod dry, or brown.
- When seed is ripe, but before it pops open, cut the plant and turn it over in the sack. You should hear seed falling into the bag.
- Label with the marker and set the bag in a dry place. I put them on the porch, out of direct sun. Don’t put them in the garage. It’s way too hot this time of year.
- Do nothing some more. Then after a few weeks or when I have the time, I shake the plants in the bag, tear the bag open and harvest my seeds.
- To harvest, pour seeds into an envelope removing as much of the trash (leaves, pods and stems) as you can. You don’t have to get it all out, but don’t put anything green in your envelope. It could rot and ruin the batch.
- Label the envelope and seal. Store in a cool, dry place. I use the hall closet.
Now–Rip up the bag and toss it in the compost pile, along with all the stems and plant left overs. In time it will all breakdown and add to your soil and nothing goes in the trash.
Good Candidates for Seed Saving:
- Heirloom tomatoes
- Formosa lilies
- Cypress vine
- Moon Vine
- Heirloom vegetables and tomatoes
No Brainer Tip number 2: While you’re cleaning up your garden, take a big jug of cider vinegar out with you. Hats off to blog reader Gerri who told me to try this for killing weeds without Roundup. I poured it straight on driveway grass on Sunday. Look at the Wednesday morning results. Wow! I’m impressed. Another super simple solution–like seed saving. You should try that.