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Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's September! Let's Collect Seeds!

There are any number of September food celebrations that I could be posting about today. There's National Mushroom Month, National Honey Month, National Chicken Month, National Rice Month and National Whole Grains Month just to name a few. And that dear readers is all I am doing today; mentioning:)

In one form or other, I have probably posted about or discussed any of the above in past years. As much as they are all noteworthy celebrations to consider, I have something else I would like to shear over this first day of September, 2013. Seeds!

The seed may be considered as that link in the chain of vegetable existence which connects the old, and new plant; were this destroyed, were nature to fail in her operation of perfecting the seed, what a change would the Earth soon exhibit. One year would sweep away the whole tribe of annual plants; beautiful flowers, medicinal herbs, and our most important grains for the sustenance of man and beast would vanish forever. Another year would take from us many of our most useful garden vegetables, and greatly reduce the number of ornamental plants. Year after year the perennials would vanish until the earth would present but one vast scene of vegetable ruin. The ancient pines and venerable oaks, instead of the smiling aspects of ever renovating nature which they now witness, would stand alone in solitary grandeur, the mournful remnants of a once beautiful and fertile world!~Almira H. Lincoln~ Lectures on Botany ©1835

I've been saving seeds for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, my father had a relatively large garden, in our suburban backyard, where he grew all kinds of vegetables. My sister and I were his little workers. Our tasks included weeding, watering, pinching and fertilizing. We were also in charge of seeds. You see, back then we use to save the seeds from one prize vegetable picked from the garden. I distinctly remember those from the tomatoes and peppers drying on the window sill for next year's planting. Of course, being an Italian gardener, he had tomatoes for Sunday's sauce, Christmas' Antipasti and beefsteak tomatoes; the very best tomatoes IMHO for sandwiches and stuffing! As for the peppers, we never knew their botanical names but we knew the difference between the Italian hot peppers and the "regular" peppers:) I don't remember much from those days but I'm sure those childhood memories are instilled in me somewhere:)

I find collecting seeds to be one of the most relaxing times in the garden. It doesn't have to be difficult. If you're like me, you like to stroll through the garden each day to spy the going ons. Who's sprouting? Who faded today? Who today is providing shelter for say...a sleeping bee.

Sometimes, saving seeds is as easy as seeing them. Since this poppy is oh so pretty, it may be easy to bypass the seed pods.

Unless...

After you've collected a few pods, let them dry out on a sheet of newspaper. Sometimes I use paper plates. Other times, I just grab whatever is within arms reach:) After they are dried, I usually put them in small envelopes. Sometimes I label them which is highly recommended. Sometimes, I forget:) Most times I wind up with quite a collection of seeds for next year.

When I first started collecting flower seeds, I had no idea what I was doing. Although I've learned a lot through trial and error, I still get stumped. I mean really, would you know where to begin looking for seeds on this Celosia? I didn't.

I bought my first few "stalks" of cockscomb from an Amish lady at the flea market a few years ago. I think it cost $3.00. I may have shared it with you a while back. Not only did I buy it for it's vibrant red color, I was also intrigued by how well it stood up to being dried. Little did I know when I put it in Marion's bathroom all dressed up in a vase that Marion would have to clean up around it on a daily basis. You see, the seeds were dropping off at the mere touch or breeze:)

Thankfully the stems I hung in the garage stayed as is. Otherwise, I would have been sweeping up tons of seeds off the garage floor. Just think about it, at $2.50 a packet, I could save some money and buy another, uh, fountain?

Remember the Cleomes?

Without a doubt, Spider Flower seeds are the most fun to collect. And easy too. I just take my trusty scissor into the garden and snip away at those long pods that looks like string beans. (wait until they begin to turn brown:)

There is one deterrent to harvesting the seeds from the Spider Flower. The bees. They love them! I usually wait until the middle of the day to go a snipping. I know, you would think that is when the bees would be the busiest. That's true with most flowers but not in my garden. The Spider Flower closes by mid-day and doesn't reopen again until late in the afternoon. I'm sure it isn't a phenomenon only to my garden. I suppose I should do a bit of research but I'm assuming it is just the characteristic of the plant itself. Whatever, it does close and I appreciate it:) In all honesty though, I've worked around these statuesque plants in the morning when the bees are in full nectar mode and I haven't gotten stung. Frankly, they are too busy buzzing about:)

I could go on and on about my seed collecting escapades. Don't worry, I won't:) I suppose the purpose of today's post is to encourage you to take a second look when you are admiring flowers, whether they are in your garden, a friend's garden or even a public garden. As we approach a new season, for some it will soon be Fall and for others Spring, seeds are all around us. They may even be hidden under a cap like those of the Portulaca,

They are waiting for you to discover them, save them, and yes, plant them too. If you're at all hesitant, may I suggest you begin with a member of the Marigold family? Easy, Peasy:)

I hope you have enjoyed today's post. I tried to keep it as simple as possible because collecting seeds can quickly become overwhelming. I also wanted a way of letting you know that you are welcome to any seeds I have available. That's probably the best thing about collecting seeds, sharing them too! The garden is still in full bloom and if any one out there wants some seeds, just let me know. I will gladly send them your way. I don't know if there are any restrictions with sending them through the mail in other countries. If you are aware of any "no sending seed laws", please let me know:) See you all Wednesday when we will get back to the "business" of food celebrations. Louise

Commonplace by Susan Coolidge
"A commonplace life,” we say, and we sigh,
But why should we sigh as we say?
The commonplace sun in the commonplace sky
Makes up the commonplace day;
The moon and the stars are commonplace things,
And the flower that blooms, and the bird that sings,
But dark were the world, and sad our lot,
If the flowers failed, and the sun shone not;
And God, who studies each separate soul,
Out of commonplace lives makes His beautiful whole.

38 comments:

  1. Really beautiful photos. Saving seeds certainly is a nice investment for future gardening.

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  2. Louise, this is so interesting.Your seed collection is quite impressive. Do you know how long seeds will remain viable? I have some older seeds from family members and was wondering if they were any good.
    Have a great holiday, xoGinger

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    1. Thanks, Ginger. Most seeds are only viable for a year but, I have sowed seeds that were around for as long as 5 years and they didn't seem to mind at all. Just give them a try, Ginger. Be sure and report back:)

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  3. what lovely post I love collect some sedes! aah but right I have to plants some sedes of basil and others (because we are going to be in spring) still the weather is cold here but no sto cold, have a nice day Dear:)

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    1. Happy "almost" Spring, Gloria. Have fun planting all those seeds. Let me know if you need some more, lol...

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  4. Really informative post! So now I guess September is National Seed Month! ;-) I've done some seed collecting in the past, although not much. You're right that it's so rewarding. And it certainly appeals to my frugal side! Fun post - thanks.

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    1. I hadn't thought of claiming September National Seed Month John but now that you mention it...first I better check and see if someone else has claimed it:)

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  5. Hi Louise , what a beautiful garden you have so full of color , just lovely , I planted some cockscomb a few years back , my family and friends would shake the combs for the seeds , thanks for sharing . Have a wonderful Labor Day :).

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    1. Thank you Nee. The combs are indeed very shakeable:)

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  6. Hi Louise,
    Looking at your lovely flowers and your beautiful garden, makes me feel ashamed of the neglect to my own, even though they are in pots. Collecting seeds is wonderful indeed, I do have some of my seeds from my previous collection, but am wondering whether are they any good now! Only way to find out, get my lazy self moving and start gardening!
    The only plants that are growing well, are my pineapples, all 6 pots of them! wink! wink!
    I shall have to do something about my other pots! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  7. Now, now, Joyce, I saw that beautiful Malabar spinach of yours. It sure looks healthy to me! Get those "old" seeds planted and report back as to how they do! As for those Pineapple pots, "No fair!" Mine hasn't even started doing anything yet except grow huge spiny leaves.

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  8. I really enjoy looking at your garden! I can't have a garden here, but seeing yours makes me feel like I'm walking in one.

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    1. Thank you Mich. You can stroll in my garden any ol' time you like! The gate is always open:)

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  9. This is fascinating, Louise. I remember collecting marigold seeds as a kid, but I suppose as we all grow up, we focus less on some of the details of things around us, and go for the easy solution. I think whether it's seeds, or some other hidden "treasure," your post is a great reminder to be observant and recognize there is often more going on than meets the eye. And, there are great riches out there to be harvested! Happy Labor Day!

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    1. I hope this post has inspired you to go pick some spent marigold flowers T.W and save those seeds!

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  10. Oh Louise you are so inspiring! Now, if I could only get the time to be so organized! You are amazing! Your photos and flowers are absolutely gorgeous! We usually are away in October. There is so much to do before we leave…should I add seed collecting to that list?
    Have a great day!

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    1. Oh Kathy, I am so NOT organized! You don't really need to add collecting seeds to the list Kathy. When you stroll through a garden just bend down a little further to take a whiff and collect some seeds from the spent flowers. The flowers will thank you for it:)

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  11. I love the birdbath with the shells on it! I can't wait until we get to our new house and I can plant things!

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    1. Thank you ducky. It isn't quite a work of art but it sure was fun making it. Let me know when you are ready for planting, I will gladly send you seeds!

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  12. You make me realize how totally I am not a gardener!

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    1. I didn't take you for a gardener, Mae. You're always too busy traveling!

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  13. You are surrounded by beauty...what a lovely garden. You should be proud. Great photos of the bees inside the flowers. When we get up your way I would love a tour of your garden!

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    1. Oh thank you Tina. The garden isn't looking too beautiful now. I've already stated mixing things up for next year, lol...

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  14. Stunning photos, and I do love that you collect seeds!

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  15. this post is a feast for the eyes, louise! wonderful!

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  16. Oh...I did enjoy this garden tour, Louise!
    Thanks for poking me to come by!
    That Sleeping Bee is adorable!!
    I used to collect seeds...not so much anymore...
    What I do now, is usually tap or lay the seed heads...of any particular plant...into my "Holding Bed' at the cottage...Hollyhocks, Sweet peas, Cleomes etc...and if they can make it thru the winter, some of them sprout up...then I can move them to their resting place...
    Great knowledgeable post....Bravo!

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  17. Gorgeous photos Louise! Love your beautiful garden! :)

    Anne ~ Uni Homemaker

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  18. How lucky to grow up with a dad who loved growing his own vegetables. I think this is a gift for a lifetime as you learn what real vegetables should taste like.
    The photos of the flowers are stunning Louise! And well done for collecting seeds! X

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  19. What a fun read, Louise! Had no idea you were a seed-saver! Your collection is impressive. In Michigan, where I did most of my gardening, it never occurred to me to collect seeds from year to year.
    Lovely photos!

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  20. I grew up in an apartment so I didn't have the chance to grow my own vegetables. I only remember as a kid in elementary school, we were putting lentils and legumes on a wet cotton inside a plastic bowl and watched the growing of greens from them! It was so much fun!

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  21. Those are some amazing shots, Louise!!

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  22. Hi Louise,

    Your seed library is huge! Ours contains in just one envelope! :p

    Being in the opposite side of the world, we are germinating seeds now :D

    Zoe

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  23. Gorgeous photos my friend, so many seeds and so much perfection in growing them :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  24. I never collected my own seeds before! Thanks for the introduction Louise! It looks fun! You are so sweet to share them with us.

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  25. Beautiful pictures. I remember my father harvesting seeds from his garden. We had tomato seeds, watermelon seed, etc. reading your post brought back great memories.

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  26. Hi Louise, wow... very gorgeous flowers. Excellent photography skill, impressive! Love your seed collection. :)

    Have a great week ahead,regards.

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  27. Louise, I am so impressed by your patience. You have such a beautiful yard. It must be so rewarding seeing all of your flowers grow.

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise