Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seed Collecting

Seed Collecting
Acquiring a collection of seeds for your gardens can be an interesting activity. As there are constantly new plants springing to life at various times of the year, you can be collecting seeds all year round!

Begin to keep track of what you see blooming around you. Then keep an eye out for when they begin to diminish. During this time frame and before they disappear for another year be sure to collect as many seeds as you think you'll use and maybe a few to sell. (Supplementing your fun with income is always a good thing!) Always be mindful of not over-taking from any one area of any of the plants from which you're acquiring seeds.

Some seeds can be picked right off the plant, like the Milkweed once its pod has opened. Others will have to be acquired by dead-heading and placing the plant head in a bag to catch the seeds as they fall off, such as with the Plantain. There are some seeds that are in 'unpleasant' pods, like the Datura, that must be handled carefully, removed from the plant, let dry and then shake out the seeds.

To store the seeds I use re-purposed pill bottles. It's amazing how many seeds can fit into an aspirin or ibuprofen bottle! The seeds that I have alot of, like the Morning Glory seeds, I store in re-purposed peanut butter jars.

Be sure to label each bottle or container with the contents (common & botanical names). (It really sucks when you don't and then later you have no idea what is in the bottle!) You should also list the collection date so you know how old the seeds are when you go to plant them. 

In a notebook or on the computer, (or if you're like me, on the computer then printed out and placed in a notebook) set up a table to list your seeds, something similar to this:

Collected Seeds Chart
Common Name
Botanical Name
Date Collected
Datura spp.
On my property
Collect pods when they’re just beginning to open
Prefers sun
Morning Glory
7/2011 - 8/2011
On my property
Collect as the seed cover browns
Prefers sun
Queen Anne’s Lace
Daucos carota
On my property
Deadhead when the ‘nest’ is brown, but before the seeds have fallen
Prefers sun

Of course use what ever labeling system you work best with. This chart is extremely basic, but easily modified and/or expanded. Cataloging your seeds will keep you organized and make it easy for future reference as to when to gather, when to plant, how much to water and fertilize, whether it can be used for or with companion planting, and any other tidbits of information you need.

It's not a hard project, it's just one that needs to be done as you collect the seeds, not once you've collected more than one type. It would really suck to mis-label or forget to label them. 'Mystery seeds' might be fun for some, but they're not for me! 

So go out, enjoy your collecting, catalog immediately, and plant with pleasure knowing soon you'll have a beautiful garden sprouting up all around you!

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