Collecting Seeds in September and October

Seed collecting is right up there with stamp collecting (still the most popular), coin collecting (still number two) and collecting vinyl records (currently, the hot one). Passionate collectors can devote an entire room to their collections. But seed collectors? An entire collection can fit in a shoebox. And if you collect your own seeds it’s free! You only need…

Time, Clippers and Coffee Filters

September and October are ideal months to collect seeds in the South Sound. It’s dry and plants are beginning to set seeds.  Unless you were really diligent about taking off every spent flowers, you’ll have more seeds than you can imagine…clearly enough seeds to share.

First, find a dry spent vegetable, herb or ornamental flower that has set its seed. Clip off the spent flower and sprinkle the seeds on a piece of typing paper so you can see them. Take some time to separate the seeds from the other junk that comes with shaking the flower. Then put the good seeds in a coffee filter or envelope to keep them dry. Label what you collected and keep everything in a cool dry place, somewhere you won’t forget. I like the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. Voila! You are on your way to growing next year’s garden. Did I mention that it was free?  Or…

Cut, Bag and Hang

Another popular seed harvesting method is to “bag it and hang it”. Cut long stems with the seed heads still attached. Put the stems, seed heads down in a paper bag. Label the bag.  Tie the bag at the top with a string and find a cool, dry place like a garage to hang it. After a few weeks, take down the bag and give it a good shake. Hopefully, the seeds will just fall into the bag. Store seeds in envelopes, jars or coffee filters. Store until you’re ready for them. Label everything.

Vegetable gardening in particular has become even more popular in the South Sound. Last year front yard raised beds popped up everywhere. Commercial seed companies actually sold out of vegetable seeds. Even plants were in short supply this year. Collecting and growing your own seeds only makes sense. Free!

If only there was a well-researched one-stop source for home gardeners to go to when they want to know everything about seeds…and here it is…

The Manual of Seed Saving-Harvesting, Storing and Sowing Techniques for Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits

by Andrea Heistinger

Seed strains are disappearing around the world so seed collecting, breeding and saving has been the focus of many governments, private companies, universities and amateurs who want to make sure that varieties are improved but also not lost.

“The Manual” is a comprehensive explanation of how and why we need to save seeds. Plants have endangered species too.

     Everything you ever wanted to know about vegetable, herb and even fruit seeds is discussed. How long are seeds viable? What temperature do they need to germinate?  Why do we need crop diversity? How important are amateur gardeners and small farmers in seed selecting?

Gardeners who grow from seed and collect and save their own seeds are major contributors to world food health. “The Manual” will convince you.

Timber Press, 331 p. $39.95