Welcome to my special gardening page for those of you who like to garden yourselves!
During the growing season, I will make suggestions as to what gardening tasks we need to do. It will help keep you on track--as well as myself!
To keep things simple, I am using the year's weekly number, Week #1 through #52 (example: the week of January 1 is Week #1), instead of specific dates.
So, come on! Let's get our hands dirty!
Plants to Save Seeds from Now
Gathering and saving seed for next year is a fun and economical fall project. There is nothing more frustrating to me than to buy a packet of seed for $3 or $4 and to find only five or six seeds in a packet! There are a lot of plants that you can easily collect seeds from now and save yourself a lot of money next year.
You will need:
Paper bags to gather seeds in.
Snips or scissors
Small paper envelopes*
Silica moisture absorbing packet (Check your junk drawer, you probably have some laying around. They come in medicine/vitamin bottles, boxes containing electronics, etc.)
Air tight container
*It is important that you store your seeds in paper envelopes, not plastic baggies. Any moisture will cause the seeds to rot and mold.
Here are some easy seeds to collect and save:
In the Vegetable Patch:
Let a dozen or so bean pods stay on the plant until they are dry to the touch. Harvest and remove the outer shell and then let them sit out for another couple of weeks to make sure they are completely dry before storing.
Peppers & Chilies
Make sure peppers and chilies are good and ripe before collecting seeds. Leave the fruit on the plant until it gets it's mature color and starts to shrivel a little. Pepper and chili seeds are very easy to harvest. Cut open the fruit and scrape the seeds off of the center rib. Set out to dry for a couple of days before storing.
Caution! If gathering hot chili seeds, be sure to wear surgical or rubber gloves and don't touch your face or eyes!
Have your lettuce plants bolted? Good! Collect the seed! Just cut off the spent flower head, place in a paper bag and shake.
Don't forget to plant some now for fall greens!
Heirloom tomatoes are called heirlooms, because the seeds have been saved for generations. Now, if you grow a lot of different tomato varieties in the same area, they may have cross pollinated and the may not breed true to type, so keep that in mind. Hybrid tomatoes will not breed true, either, as they are cross bred plants to begin with.
Saving seed from tomatoes is a process. Make sure the fruit is very ripe. Cut it open and you will see that the seeds are contained in a slimy substance. The slime must be removed before you store or plant your seeds, as it prevents germination. Place seeds in a small jar and fill half way with warm water. Shake vigorously until the slime starts to break up. Pour contents through a fine sieve. Gently run warm water over the seeds until they are completely clean. Lay out on a paper towel for two or three days to dry. Be sure to write the name of the variety on the paper towel so you don't forget what it is.
In the Flower Garden:
Wait until the flower heads are brown and crispy. Gently roll it between your fingers until the seeds release, shake them out into a paper bag or bowl. Don't worry if there are dried flower petals in the mix. As long as they are dry, they won't hurt anything.
Hollyhock seeds are easy to collect. They are born in neat little packages along the flower stem. Each package has about a couple of dozen, large flat seeds inside, tightly packed in a circle. Again, wait for them to become completely dry before harvesting. Open the seed pod and remove the seeds. They will be stuck together, so break them apart.
Hollyhocks are biennials, which mean they come up the first year, over winter, then bloom the second year, produce seed, then die. So, get some seed in the ground now so it can germinate and grow a little, then you will have flowers next year!
Sweet Peas are another really easy plant to save seed from. Collect the dried seed pods, crack them open and pop out the seeds.
Cosmos seeds are ready when they form a star of dried black seeds. Just pull them off with your fingers. Be sure to sprinkle some of them around the back of the garden while you are at it. The seeds winter over nicely and will germinate at just the right time to give you the earliest blooms next year!
If you are adventurous, Dahlias can be really fun to grow from collected seed. However, they will never be the same as the parent plant. Most all Dahlias grown for sale are grown from either tuber divisions or stem cuttings. However, you can grow dahlias very easily from seed and get a crazy variety of different, colorful plants. Then, you can choose the ones you like the best and save the tubers for next year! (see my blog on growing dahlias)
Dahlia seed pods and flower buds look very similar; however, the flower buds are a round, button shape, while the seed pods are pointed. Wait for the seed pod to dry, then cut it off the plant and break it up. There should be dozens of long, pointy black seeds inside.
Store your envelopes of seeds in an air tight container with a couple of silica packs to absorb any left over moisture. Place in a cool, dark place until Spring. Your refrigerator is a great place, if you have room; if not, a basement or heated garage is also a good place. Keeping them cool is most important. Heat will make your seeds less viable.
Growing plants from seeds you collected from plants you grew the year before can be very satisfying, indeed, not to mention easy on the pocket book, as well!
Now, lets get busy!
If you have any questions, put them in the comments below!
Valmont Valley Farm
Where Beautiful Magic is Always in Bloom
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