Saving Seeds

20110806-025655.jpgOver the past two years I've grown most of my vegetable plants from seed. Some plants are best grown into seedlings and then transplanted to their growing location, like tomatoes and eggplant. While other plants are best grown by planting the seeds in the container or location you ultimately set aside for them, also known as "direct sown." Root vegetables, like carrots and beets, prefer to be direct sown. Marigolds don't seem to have a growing preference, it grows well direct sown or through transplanting. Marigolds are also champion seed producers. In May, I noticed that some of the flowers were starting to die-off while new buds were emerging from the plants. I examined the bud that was dying off and found that underneath the flower the was a ton of seeds! I plucked a few more dead-heads from the various marigold plants, and decided to scatter the seeds around all of the containers in the garden. Now almost all of my containers have a marigold plant growing right along with them.

Queen Sophia Marigold just blooming: 20110806-025552.jpg

Marigold buds and a bloom going to seed: 20110806-025608.jpg Around this time, I pluck the bloom that is going to seed and bring it inside to dry out. I don't pluck every "dead-head" but I like the idea of harvesting my own seeds for future flower beds. The seeds will also make great gifts come holiday time.

Marigold blooms drying out: 20110806-025641.jpg

How I Save Seeds: After the blooms have dried out, I remove the remaining flower petals and pull the seeds from the seed cavity. I allow the seeds to air dry for a week before storing them in envelopes and then file the seeds away in my seed-box. On average, seeds are viable for 2-3 years, if you want them to last even longer, store them in the freezer.

There are numerous seeds that are just as easy to save; hot and sweet peppers, and herbs like dill, basil, chervil and coriander. You can save the seeds in a plastic bag, or in plain seed envelopes. Just make sure to store them in a cool, dark, dry space. Next year I may try my hand at saving tomato, eggplant and squash, seeds but for now these marigolds are keeping me busy.

Seed packets for next year: 20110806-025704.jpg

In addition to saving a little money, saving seeds helps me to share the beautiful flowers and plants for generations to come.