Its been a busy summer and I can’t believe I forgot to post about my seed saving last month. Let’s look at what seeds are easily saved now. Did you grow Alyssum this year? Alyssum is a wonderful annual that attracts beneficial insects to the garden. It will drop its seeds and come back in most gardens but often the seeds don’t grow where you want them. If you are like me, your annual plantings change from year to year. I was outside yesterday and had cut some of my Alyssum flowers back but purposely left a few stems to go to seed. Lets take a closer look at where to find the seeds on this plant. Many seeds can be found behind the flower but many are found on stems as well.
The seeds are enclosed in tiny capsules along the stems of Alyssum. I should have cut the stems and brought them in earlier as I can see that some seeds have already popped out and are probably enjoying a home somewhere in the garden. I brought this stem in the house and carefully ran my fingers up and down the stem to release the seeds. Be sure to have a plate, envelope or paper towel on which to catch the seeds.
Your seeds will look like this. See the tiny tan-coloured seeds above. Those are the mature seeds. The rest is just chaff left over from the plant and can be composted. I will continue to collect seeds over the summer and save them for next year.
Another annual flower worth collecting seed from are Sweet Peas. Mine has been blooming for a couple of months now and if you don’t continuously pick your blooms they will go to seed. You can see that these white Sweet Peas have lots of seed pods. The pods are fuzzy making them very different from your vegetable peas which have smooth pods. When the sweet pea pods feel plump and start to yellow be sure to cut them off the plant and bring them inside to harvest the seeds. The seeds will look like small, hard dark-coloured balls. Now you may have grown a hybrid type of sweet pea but you will still get flowers next year. They may turn out to be a different colour but if it doesn’t matter then save the seed. It can save you money next year.
I love the way Marigolds can fill in the gaps in the garden. I grew this Signet Marigold from collected seed and I wish I had grown more. Its been tucked into containers, used as an edging plant in my perennial beds and its a great companion plant for the vegetable garden. As the blooms start to die off, pinch off the finished buds to save the seeds. Yes, the seeds are contained within the dried up blooms.
This is what the seeds will look like when you gently pry open a bud. This bud wasn’t quite ready as I see some green seeds that are not ready to be stored. If you look at the black seed on the bottom left, this is how your marigold seeds should look. They are tiny thin seeds, part black and white in colour.If you look closely they each have a tiny tuft on the end to ensure seed dispersal in the garden. Package up the black ripened seed and store for next year. I like to use envelopes for storing seeds. Be sure to label the envelope with name of plant, date and any characteristics you want to remember like height , colour and bloom time.
Nasturtiums are easy seeds to collect. As the Nasturtiums start to wind down you will see little ball like seeds forming on a blossom end. That little green ball on the end can be picked off before it drops on its own.
Who wouldn’t want another display like this for next season? I love adding Nasturtiums to my vegetable garden beds and containers. What I have noticed this year is I have no black aphids. Nasturtiums are known to get black aphids and most of us end up replacing them with something else. This year its been an aphid free year in my garden. Mind you, the unexpected warm temperatures have this plant struggling. I think it likes cooler weather.
It’s not only flowers seeds that you can collect now. I save seeds from my heirloom tomatoes. I only save seeds from the open pollinated types, not the hybrids, as I want my tomato seeds to come true next year. Saving tomato seeds is not like flower seed saving. Tomato seeds need to be fermented.
Fermenting seeds is very easy so don’t be scared away by the process. All you need is a jar, some tomatoes and some water. It’s just so easy.
Look how much seed a couple of tomatoes will produce! Often you can pay up to $5 for just ten seeds. Why not save them yourself? If you would like to learn more about seed saving I will be teaching a class on September 13 from 10:00am-11:30am at the Ladner Community Garden. The class is free to residents of Delta so why not sign up? Here is the Corporation of Delta’s link for the class. I will be going over the process on saving tomato seeds at the class along with other flower and vegetable seeds. The class is called Save Seeds, Save Money. We can all use this class!