I know this feels out of order with my gardening series, and you would be correct. But the thing is, we’ve been doing a LOT of seed saving the last few weeks. I have the pictures, and the info is fresh in my brain, so go with it.
What started out as a way to save some money, has become a true labor of love and a sweet addition to our homeschooling.
It started with Bells of Ireland. After planting them in 2020, I wanted to learn how to harvest the seeds for 2021. I mean, look at how HUGE these seeds are. I’d have been crazy to not at least try. Every bell has FOUR WHOLE SEEDS. A quick YouTube search and I discovered how ridiculously easy they were to harvest. Then, I looked up Cosmos, Zinnias, and my milk weed.
This year, as my variety of plants has expanded, so has the seed saving! Many of them are actually quite easy and take almost no effort!
Snapdragons & Columbine form pods after the blooms die. These pods are full of seeds. Pluck them, turn them upside down, and give them a good shake- maybe a tap against a bowl. Your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.
For bulbous blooms like bee balm and coneflowers, etc, the remaining dried centers are a bunch of seeds. Remove the head, and using your fingers rub the outer layer of seeds off. Cosmos leave pointy centers behind that are their seeds. They fall off quite easily. Zinnias have a seed at the end of each flower petal. After the blooms dies, allow it to finish drying. The petals will come right off with a seed head at the end! Marigold’s dry, leaving behind quill like seeds. Wallflower, on the other hand, keeps it’s seeds in it’s stems. The flowers drop, the stems dry, break open, and spread their seeds.
Athena and I have been having so much fun going out to the garden about once a week to pick “dead heads.” It’s a terrible term considering that “dead bloom” is bursting with bundled up life. It’s something that she can really, tangibly help with, which makes her SO excited.
Sometimes, we bring our treasures inside to harvest, and put them in envelopes for next year. Other times as we collect, we throw them back into the garden to let nature take it’s course. Yes, you can get real picky about starting seeds inside 6-8 weeks before last frost, or sowing directly after last frost, etc. Does it raise your chances of getting more plants? Absolutely. But the reality is, plants were literally made to do this. They were made to die, produce seeds, in some way, shape or form, drop those seeds, and allow a new generation to spring forth in the spring. That’s why, in many cases, I don’t sweat annuals vs perennials. There’s a really good chance that even if I’m not intentionally saving seeds or planting, that plant is going to self-sow and I’ll see it next year anyway.
Some seed saving tips:
-Keep seeds in paper envelopes. Plastic can trap moisture and ruin your seeds. We got these great packets from Amazon. I like the array of colors.
-Many plants/seed pods are prickly/pokey. This protects them from birds & animals so that they can drop their seeds to continue…potentially painful for humans. Make sure you check before letting little hands help.
-Make sure to label what’s in the envelope. If you have the original seed packet, make sure to write down general info like when to plant & what level of sun it likes. You can easily look it up as well.
-If you have a plant you REALLY like, there’s about a 99.9% chance there’s a video on YouTube about how to find & collect it’s seeds, regardless of whether it’s an annual or perennial.
-Be prepared to start plucking dead flowers from random plants. Dead plant in front of a store? Pluck it. Just remember to check pockets when you get home.