Saving Seeds and Watching Cycles
Written by: Sumati Shah
This year I’m making a point of harvesting seeds from more of my garden plants. In between edible harvests, watching tomatoes set and grow bigger by the day, it’s flower seeds that I’m collecting lately.
Let’s talk Calendula, for example. There are so many varieties and they do so much for the garden, they shine like little bright suns when I look out from my kitchen window as I greet the morning.
And so many uses! They’re edible and beautiful additions to a salad or even salad dressing…or use them to decorate a cake! There is no noticeable flavour, but you’ve just added some sunshine to your salad or desert.
The seeds themselves are pretty crazy looking – sorta like weird caterpillars and not much like anything you’d imagine when you picture “seeds”, but these will fall right off the button and into your palm when the time is right for harvesting seeds from your dried up and spent blooms.
I was fortunate enough to have these in my garden when I moved here over a decade ago, and my lackadaisical gardening habits mean that they’ve never left. What a delight! They go to seed and I leave them where they are, eventually cleaning them up in the late fall with ‘the big cleanup’, and they happily appear beaming their sunny petals the next season.
This time I’m harvesting some seeds to that I can sow them intentionally next spring, where I want them, and not just where they’ve decided to show up.
Other seeds I’m saving right now in the peak of summer:
Sweet Peas: most of them have finished flowering and I’ve collected at least 3 times as many seeds as there were in the seed pack I bought this spring! (talk about abundance!!!)
Coriander: the cilantro has bolted (and I might sow some more) and I let the coriander seeds ripen and I keep them in my kitchen for spices (although I buy ground coriander, I like having the whole seeds ‘in case I run out’, and since I seldom actually run out – it means I have seeds to sow in the ground next spring.
Chives: depending on where you are and where you have them planted, you might still have chives growing well for you and it’s time to check those flowers, little chive bulblets are doubtless ready for you to pluck and save (keep those aired and dry) or sow right away if you’ve got the right spot!
Lettuce: Ok, not a plant you often hear of saving seeds from, but I like to leave a few plants to bolt, and if the yellow finches don’t eat them before I collect them, the fluffy parachutes attached to the seeds dry and fall away as I leave them out for a few days before saving for the following year.
Nigella: They’re still flowering (blue beauty in the pic) but also the pods are drying nicely and there will be a succession of them ready for me to collect some in the coming weeks. I sometimes wait for the pods to ‘pop’ open on their own and then collect what hasn’t fallen out yet…some to the garden, some to the kitchen spices, some to the seed envelope!
Rule of Green Thumbs: Nature’s cycles are easily followed – just pay attention from seed to harvest, and back again. The art of living flows with those same cycles – a bountiful harvest might be easier than you think!
Go Go Green Thumbs!