Seed Saving

For the last couple of days, I've been going around the garden with little envelopes grabbing dried seed heads. Back in the olden days, I worked in the office for a plant conservatory, and one of my many jobs there was to prepare seeds to be sent out to members of the seed exchange we were members of. Mostly I handled cold-hardy cactus (we had a large collection) and seeds from the considerable tree collection that graced the grounds, but there were a few odd ones that were fun. For each seed, I made an envelope with the botanical information, collection data, and cultivation notes where they were provided by the head gardener.

Seed collection

So for my own seed collection I was being a bit more precise than perhaps your average person would be about the varieties: I recorded the botanical name, common name if that was used more often ("Lupine" versus "Lupinus"), some small notes on cultivation, and the date of collection (so I know if the seeds are likely to be viable). I really should get a better reference book, but I really can't justify the cost, given the availability of more detailed information on the internet.

The other thing I used to do as part of the seed exchange was clean seeds, and oh boy you cannot imagine how exciting that is. Some seeds are easy: lupines just sort of pop out of their shells and into the envelope. But some seeds, like nicotiana, are a pain in the butt because the plant itself is kind of sticky and the seeds are small, and you end up with little seeds everywhere.

So two days of seed collection and cleaning, and I'm almost done with what I'm collecting this year. Most of the plants are getting to self-sow for next year, but I did collect some of the excess. I will probably start some inside in case the self-sowed plants don't work out, and give some away. I'm trying to get out of the habit of storing seeds for more than a few months at a time.

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posted by ayse on 08/18/06