A Method of Cleaning Sempervivum and Jovibarba Seeds

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Posted by @parttimegardener on
I did quite a few crosses this year and, when it came to cleaning up the seeds, I found this method quite helpful in saving some time and avoiding the loss of too many seeds blown away with the debris.

As recommended by Kevin Vaughn, I harvested my flower stalks when they were fairly dry and stored them in smaller paper bags for further drying. When searching local paper stores and the internet for the recommended glassine envelopes, I found them either too large and/or too expensive or simply not available, so I decided to create my own "envelopes" using baking paper.

I cut a larger number of square sheets of about 10x10 cm (4"x4") and folded them twice in half, creating smaller squares, before reopening the folds again. I found the size to be suitable for the amount of seeds I had. You may decide on the size required for your seeds. The folds should be clearly visible after unfolding, but precision is not required.

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Then I prepared a white sheet of copy paper (white is preferred, as you can easily see any seed or debris) and folded it in half and again about 1/3 from the edge of the long side after having opened the first fold. Also, the second fold was reopened. Again, the folds should be clearly visible after unfolding, but no precision work is required.

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Then I emptied the contents of one of my storage paper bags onto the white sheet and started crushing the seedheads between my fingers, thus releasing seeds and a lot of debris. Larger bits of debris, such as petals, were then removed by slowly moving my tweezers from one side of the sheet to the other, holding them horizontally and close to the paper surface. The debris was drawn to one angle of the sheet, picked up with the fingers, and discarded. What remained was a mixture of seeds and about equally sized debris that I considered suitable for sowing.

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I then lifted up one side of the white sheet and gently tapped it with my fingers to remove the seed, and then I repeated the same process on the other side. This way, all of the seeds were lined up in the central fold. To transfer the seeds to the baking paper square, I aligned the fold with the square center and I inclined the white sheet to remove the seeds. The remaining seeds were removed with fingers. When you are inclining the white sheet, your thumb will automatically come to rest in the second fold, giving you better handling control.

When the same white sheet is used for numerous crosses, extra care should be taken at this step to remove all seeds and debris in order to avoid mixing the seeds.

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After the seeds were piled up in the center of the square, the folds initially traced were then carefully closed, resulting in two closed edges. The two remaining sides were then closed by folding the edges inward twice. To avoid the opening of the last folds and seed loss, the package was folded lengthwise, thus crossing the last fold and keeping it closed.

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The finished package was then placed in the labeled paper storage bag.

Applying this technique allowed me to clean the seeds of 1 cross within less than 5 minutes at minimum seed loss and almost no cost (I already had the baking paper). I hope it will be as useful to you when you clean semp seed.

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Timely article by valleylynn Sep 25, 2015 8:24 AM 5

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