Saving Your Garden Seeds
THE fact that mostare raised from seed (a few can be propagated from ) adds a greater significance and value to seed collecting. Practically every annual produces a rich harvest of seed, and collecting, drying and storing it can be instructive and interesting. Purity of strain will be lost from home-collected seeds, while novelties and new varieties must of course be purchased from the seedsman. When large quantities are required and individual colours are not an essential, the home-saved seed will generally give excellent results.
The equipment necessary is a good supply of stout paper-bags, a pencil, basket and scissors. The seeds should be ripe at the time of collection, and should be gathered on a fine day. If collected before they are fully matured, seeds will give poor germination, and if collection is delayed too long only empty seed-vessels will be found. Annuals are perhaps the easiest of all seeds to collect as they are generally produced in large quantities, and often the almost dry flower-head can be collected.
When there are seeds ready for collection, the name should be written on an empty paper-bag, and the seed either picked or cut from the plant and placed in the bag for transfer to the place where the seeds are to dry. Sometimes there will be pods, sometimes bunches, and sometimes berries or individual seeds. Almost any light, airy room or shed is suitable for drying and storing seeds, provided there is space for tables or shelves and plenty of. is of great importance as it is so easy for seeds to go mouldy, especially in autumn when most seed collecting is done. Empty the contents of the paper-bags into cardboard boxes, and in each box place a label bearing the name of the seed. I have always found it unwise to try to dry seeds in metal or earthenware receptacles, as these are not absorbent and the seeds are slow to dry. The boxes can be left until seeds are ready for cleaning, but it is advisable to disturb the contents now and again so that air penetrates.
Seed cleaning presents its own problems. Leguminous plants such asand are easy, while members of the poppy family require a gentle shake for the ripe seeds to fall out of the capsules, already cleaned. Some are exasperating to clean, especially those which are sticky, have spines or fly all over the place as soon as touched. I find that the most useful tools for helping with seed cleaning are small sieves, with a wide range of meshes. By passing the seeds from one to the other many can be separated from the chaff. , Petunias, , etc., can all be dealt with in this way; while larger seeds, such as , are best cleaned by hand. Many seeds can be cleaned by just shaking them about in a closed paper-bag.
Dry, cleaned seeds are best stored in small glass jars (without lids) labelled and arranged in alphabetical order on shelves in an open cupboard in a medium temperature.