If you are new to growing your own plants, collecting the seeds from your garden favourites might be something you have considered.
Collecting seed is not always the easiest of tasks but there is nothing more rewarding than creating your garden from scratch. It will also save you money. It is usually said that seeds are roughly ready two weeks after flowering so keep your eye out for colour changes.
Four Season Garden Maintenance would like to share with you their 20 Tips for collecting and keeping seed:
Always choose to pick seed from the best performing plants in your garden
Once your flowers are fading at the end of the season is the best time to collect their seed, leave a short stalk on to make them easier to handle
Always use clean tools or a good pair of sharp scissors to remove the seed pods or flower heads
Choose a dry day with a bit of sun
Look for seed heads that have now changed from green to brown, black or red - these are when they are usually about to burst
Collect them in a clean paper bag
Remember to label and date the bag, you will never remember what they were otherwise
Do not use plastic bags as they get condensation and sweat and rot the seed
When you have your seed in your bag lay them out on a piece of clean paper, some people use newspaper but we like to use a clean sheet of A4 so you can see the seeds better
A warm window sill or airing cupboard will work
Leave to dry like this for at least a week
So now you have harvested your very own seed for the first time
Transfer them to clean dry envelopes and don't forget to label them
Where possible keep them at a temperature of 5°C
Keep them dry at all times
Do not let them freeze
Do not let them over-heat
Store the envelopes in an air-tight jar, this will help keep them at a constant temperature
Keep the jar somewhere dark for best results
Some people recommend keeping the jar in the fridge
Natures natural packaging comes in many different forms of seeds to look for.
The most common ones are:
Berries (e.g. holly) Capsules (e.g. poppy) Catkins (e.g. birch) Cones (e.g. pine) Exploding seedheads (e.g. Euphorbia lathyris) Nuts (e.g. hazel) Pods (e.g. sweet peas) Winged seed (e.g. Acer, sycamore)
Seed production in some circumstances is draining for a plant. For self preservation their seed production may be cyclical – some years will be good for harvesting, others may be bad.
Weather conditions can also effect the seed production of a plant. So if we have had a late frost or a long drought that cycles seed may be much poorer than other years.
The viability of a seed is known as the length of time that seed stays alive and is able to germinate.
If the seeds you have collected and sown have failed to germinate, it suggests it was not viable.
Seed viability depends on the condition of the seed when it is first stored. The time it has been stored for and what it is being kept in.
To collect seeds from your home-grown fleshy fruits and berries, mash them in a fine sieve. Rinse away the pulp in running cold water then leave the seed to dry for a few days on paper towels.
Do your homework if you know the name of your plants as some such as the Holly may carry male and female flowers on separate plants and obviously the male plants will never bear seed for you to collect.