Saving Seeds

Black Eyed Susan

When I was a little 5 yr. old girl, I was so interested in seeds that I planted an apple seed (after I finished eating an apple) and grew an apple tree right beside our front porch.  My parents and neighbours came to love the shade of my apple tree, during their summer ‘porch gatherings’ every evening.  My interest in saving seeds has grown throughout the years – in fact, I still have seeds saved from almost 2 decades ago.

This summer, my garden has been extremely dry so the seeds on the plants are drying quite nicely.  Yesterday I began harvesting seeds from my garden for use next year.

Poppy ‘Bulb’ Bursting with Seeds

The poppies in my veggie garden seem to grown just about everywhere.  I’m not really sure where they came from originally, but those micro-sized poppy seeds drop or blow all over.  The beautiful red, carnation-looking  poppy flowers have finished blooming about 3 weeks ago and now the large bulb in the centre is completely dried out, brown, and full of poppy seeds.   I simply snip off the bulbous heads directly into a paper bag and leave it in the garage with the bag open, until October.  I love the look of the stray poppies in my vegetable garden, surprising me with their new locale every summer.  By saving the seeds every August, I can at least try to direct where I want them to grow around the property next year.  In the fall, I just sprinkle the seeds all around the gardens and wait until next summer……..  Poppy seeds are also good in baking – muffins, cakes, bread.



Dill Seeds

Next I began to harvest dill  that had gone to seed.   I never actually plant dill in my garden – it just comes up all over the place from seeds that dropped off of last years plants.   Fresh dill, that has not gone to seed yet, is used in salads and dill pickles.  I just harvest the seeds to have on had for “future reference” – again, I just cut the entire seed ‘umbrella’ into a paper bag and let it continue to dry out in the garage.  The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bag and then I can just compost the heads and save the seeds in a container.  I think dill is a beautiful lacy plant which looks lovely mixed in with the perennial flowers, too.

I’ve been watching some of my early (read:  My Spring Garden Tour) April  lettuce ‘bolt’,  then flower since the end of June.  I purposely left some of the leaf lettuce ‘go to seed’ so I could collect the seeds for fall planting.  I carefully cut off the fluffy tops into another paper bag, then transferred them onto newspaper laid out on the garage counter.  It can dry more right there in front of the window until most of the seed just drops off onto the newspaper by the time I’m ready to plant it in a few weeks…..

Leaf Lettuce Seeds drying on Newspaper

Other seeds I save include old fashioned annuals like Cosmos, Marigolds, and Zinnias, but they won’t be ready to begin harvesting until September.  Now that the Lupin seeds are all dried on the plant, I can simply cut off the branch with all the seed pod “fingers” and spread them right away where I like around the property.  Lupins come up the next year but often don’t flower for another couple of years.  Others seeds like Purple Coneflowers and Black Eyed Susans just stay on the plants for the birds to enjoy throughout the winter.  In the spring, I’ll cut off any leftover seedheads and just let them drop to continue to cycle of more plants.

Other seeds that I save come from inside the actual vegetables, like winter Acorn Squash or heritage Brandywine Tomatoes.   I also replant garlic cloves in October to grow an entire new garlic plant by the next July.  From one garlic bulb, I can use its 8 or so cloves to replant 8 new garlic plants.


Paper Bags of Seeds


Canna Lily

I also dig up my Canna Lily bulbs in the fall and store them in my cold room (single layer in a cardboard box) after letting them dry out a bit for a few weeks in the garage.  During this drought summer, the Canna Lillies have stayed alive without any watering – I’m amazed at how their huge leaves efficiently capture the morning dew and must use it to almost water themselves!  Their large, solid leaves and brilliant red flowers are tropical looking and a real show-stopper!

Right now, onions seeds are drying on the plant as well.  Of course, small potatoes become their own ‘seed potato’ the following summer when I simply plant one for each potato plant I want.  What could be simpler!

Old fashion or ‘Heritage’ plants are required if you want to save seeds.  Hybrid plant seeds don’t grow like the parent plant.

Saving seeds has added another dimension to my gardening experience.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rob Hartman
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 04:46:24

    The only thing reseeding here is my hairline !


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