Snap! Just like that summer’s almost over, and today we woke up the dreaded change in the air and the feeling of *gasp* autumn’s imminent arrival. I’ve already noticed the shorter days and soon the temperatures will drop, but perhaps the most decisive sign of fall is seed saving: with each visit to the garden, my pockets quickly fill with seeds – kale (top photo), nasturtiums, coriander, lettuce, calendula, cosmos, California poppies, and more.
If you’re like me, gathering fistfuls of ripe seed as you pick tomatoes or pull weeds, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll remember which seeds are in which pocket. Ha ha.. I have wonderful intentions, but I rarely remember if my left pocket had the red lettuce or the green lettuce? Or did I put the black nasturtiums or the Empress of India nasturtiums in my sweater pocket. Oops!
There are plenty of great books on seed saving. One of my favourites is The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, but for some quick tips on seed saving… read on!
Niki’s seed saving tips:
1) Keep a sandwich-sized tupperware (or similar) container in your garden filled with small paper or plastic baggies and a sharpie. As you gather your seeds, pop them in the baggies and label with the marker. If they need further drying, lay them out on screens or newspaper once you get back indoors.
2) Don’t harvest too early – or too late. As you make your daily rounds of the garden, keep an eye on maturing flower heads and seed pods. Seed pods can shatter if left in the garden too long (bye-bye seed), so once the majority of the pods have dried, pull the plants and thresh the seed.
3) Gather seed on dry days. I find it best to collect seed on sunny days, anytime from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. You want your seeds to be very dry before they’re stored, so if there is any hint of moisture, be sure to lay them out to continue drying for a few days to weeks before storing.
4) Be a smart storer. Once my seeds are thoroughly dry, I place them in labelled envelopes and tuck the envelopes in a glass jar. The jars are kept in the fridge until I’m ready to plant. To further discourage moisture, I like to make up some simple moisture-absorbing packets by placing two tablespoons of powdered milk in a tissue and twisting it shut. Put one milk packet in each jar.
For tips on harvesting calendula seeds, check out this video:
Are you a savvy seed saver, too?