Saving seed from your garden plants is easy to do and will provide you with plenty to sow next season. It will also save you a great deal of money and, personally, I find it very therapeutic…
This is a perfect job to do on a day when it is too horrid to be outside in the garden. It has been lovely and mild down here in Devon so far, but the past few days have been dank and gloomy, so this weekend may well be when I tackle my seeds
Some seeds need frost to help germination, and are best sown fresh in autumn. But many seeds don’t need a period of cold and need light, warmth and water instead. These seeds are better sown in spring or, for the tender varieties, in early summer when all threat of frost has passed. So, collect the seed now and then store in a cool, dark spot until you’re ready to sow them.
It’s a good idea to ‘clean’ the seeds before you store them. This involves removing the chaff, which may contain pests and diseases and could turn mouldy or rot. It can take a bit of time, but I use it as an excuse to listen to the Afternoon Play on Radio 4, or an audiobook and it then becomes a bit of a treat, and not a chore at all.
So, arm yourself with some paper envelopes (why not recycle old ones?), a pen and a sieve. Write the seed name on the envelope before you start – otherwise you can end up with a surprise when something completely different comes up! Put the seed heads in a sieve (a kitchen one is fine) and, holding it over some paper, simply sieve the seeds through it. Most of the chaff and rubbish will be left in the sieve. If you have a finer sieve, carry out the same process again to get an even better ‘cleaner’ result. Then, using a funnel, pour your seeds in the envelope, suitably labelled and dated.
A great place to store envelopes of seed is in a sealed sandwich box along with a few sachets of dried silica gel stored in the bottom of the fridge to keep cool until you’re ready to sow them.
I have already cut some seed heads and they are drying in the shed, but others I will go around and snip off now. If you haven’t cut any yet, don’t worry, do it now, then let them dry and follow my instructions later.
I know gazing at seed catalogues is lovely, but it can get expensive. This way, you get the pleasure of propagating your own seeds from your existing plants and I think you’ll find you get a real sense of achievement when they flower next spring.