Answer: Plants set seed in a lot of ways - some hide them in pods and some mature in the flower heads. Others hide the seed in fruits or berries. The key in successfully collecting seed is knowing when the seeds are ripe and ready to be removed from the parent plant. If removed too soon, many seeds will not be viable, and the effort will have been useless. The seedpod will turn brown and papery-looking. And when the stem begins to turn brown, the seed head is about ready to open up and release the seed.
Gathering seeds is the first step, and all you?ll need for this is a pair of scissors and a paper bag. Snip off the seedpods that are beginning to open from the natural drying process, and gently place them upside down in your paper bag. Be sure to mark the bag with the name of the plant, the location in your garden where you harvested the seeds from, and the date. This?ll help you remember where you collected the seed, and help with your notes on propagating success, too. (It?s good to make notes, so in the future you?ll know which plants do well, as well as which ones not to bother collecting from next time.)
Drying the seeds is the next step. This is an easy one: Just close the paper bag and put it in a cool location for an additional 2-3 weeks of drying. Once they?re all dry, tap and shake the closed bag to release the seeds from their pods.
Cleaning the seeds is a little more work. You?ll need a shallow container, like a flower tray (about 1-2 inches deep), lined with paper. You?ll also need strainers or sieves with different mesh sizes to separate the different-sized seeds from the debris and trash of the seed casings. Shake the contents of the bag into a strainer (above your flower tray) and work through the plant debris. The seeds should sift through the mesh to the paper below. After you?ve completed this step, take the paper and roll it into a tube shape. Hold one end over a small jar and slide the seeds right inside.
Storing seeds until you?re ready to propagate is the final step. Don?t forget to label your jar, close it tightly and place it in the refrigerator. The cool temperature will keep your seeds fresh until you?re ready to plant them or share them with other plant enthusiasts!
So don?t be wary of seed collecting. It?s easy ? and a fun way to share and learn about the plants in your garden.
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