Gathering Seeds

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September has ended. Air is cool and dry. Everything is taking on a different appearance. Bright greens are now dull, subdued shades of olive and tan. Plants are losing moisture and strength. It might seem to be the end of them.

Or, it might be called the beginning. They are holding in their depths the seeds of next year; their next generation as it were. As these tiny bundles of life fall to the earth or are swept away on evening breezes, another spring is planted.

Where does this season end and the next begin? Actually the end and beginning overlap right now, today. If one spends a few contemplative moments in a garden or sits surrounded by flower beds, one finds, not so much a feeling of an end of these beautiful plants but more of a going to sleep, a long-deserved nap, as it were.

While we humans think of winter as a three or four month sentence to ice and snow and muddy floors, all that is outdoors is actually on a mission of renewal. Resting is part of renewal. We realize that for ourselves but it’s true for all living things. Nature, full of life in the summer, succumbs to cooler air and lower sunshine. Her bundles of seeds are insurance against all oncoming weather that her flowers and vegetables and trees will be there with the next spring rain, rays of sunshine and warm breezes.

“In All Things We’ll be Joyful to Gather the Seeds of Her Labor.” C.L.Moore, 2015

Seed Tips We’ve Found Helpful:

1. Some seeds just need to be left to their own devices. An example is Sweet William. Seed heads form after blooming is done. In summer air and sun, the seeds dry, the plant bends over and seeds are released back to the soil. To move seeds to another location, simply shake dry seed heads into an aluminum pie pan. Scatter in prepared bed. Autumn is the time to plant this perennial seed.

2. An aluminum pie pan is a simple, cheap tool for gathering seeds. Hold the pan under the chosen seeds and gather into the pan. Seeds can continue to dry right in the pan. Or, break off seed heads, such as when gathering marigolds, place in pan until totally dry and brown. Then, break open seed package, release the seeds into the pan for further drying.

3. Drying is key to keeping seeds viable. Always make sure seeds are completely dry before storing is jar, envelope or box. Label each type and note the date they were gathered. Seeds can be grown at least three or four years after the gathering date.

Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place. Envelopes fit into drawers, jars can sit on a shelf as long as it isn’t in sunlight. Some people store seed jars in the refrigerator. Before storing for winter, make sure the seeds are the only things in the container. Sometimes small insects hide in seed heads, or cling to the seeds themselves. Again the pie pan is great for spotting these lively tag-a-longs. Remove anything moving before sealing seeds in containers.