Have you ever wondered how to harvest seeds from your favorite plants?
Having an ample supply of seeds for your garden can be invaluable when you start your garden the following year. Harvesting seeds from your plants will guarantee you seeds for years to come. The only things required are a little time, some small sharp scissors and some paper bags or envelopes.
Begin by harvesting the seeds in the mid-morning or early afternoon after the morning dew has dried. If the plant produces small seeds you will want to use an old stainless steel strainer with small holes to sift. Crush the seed pods and shake the strainer to release the small seeds into a paper bag or container.
The strainer will also hold any mud clumps, debris, and small spiders, things you don’t wish to collect. If the plant produces large hard pods that contain the seeds you will need to break the pod open before removing the seed ( if they are hard to remove, use an old pair of tweezers ).
After removing all the seeds you want you must store them properly. Label your envelopes or paper bags as you harvest the seeds to reduce confusion, many seeds seem the same. Make sure your seeds are completely dry before you store them (wet seeds will rot). Keep your seeds in a cool dry place for a few days before you package them in the envelopes or bags.
Store smaller seeds in an envelope then store them inside a container that is NOT airtight but will allow enough air to circulate to prevent the seeds from severely drying out. DO NOT store your seeds wet and always allow ripe seed (still green) pods to dry out sufficiently before packaging.
When you are all done harvesting and packaging the seeds in their individual containers, you will have a ready supply for the beginning of the new planting season come spring.
Sowing Harvested Seeds
Now that you have harvested your seeds for next year’s garden, it is time to decide when you want to start to sow them. More… First of all to a novice gardener probably has no idea as to what is sowing seeds? Sowing seeds is simply germinating your seeds either inside or outside in small trays or directly in the ground, in other words planting.
Depending on the size and types of seeds you have the best time to sow them will depend totally upon you. If you gathered seeds from annuals, then generally start sowing them in the spring, either inside in trays or pots, and later transplant them outside after the danger of late frosts has passed.
If you harvested half-hardy or hardy annuals then they can be sown in the fall of the previous year and in spring they will have a longer growing period or sow them directly outside in early spring again after the danger of frost has passed, while seeds from hardy or half-hardy perennials can be sown year around.
There is no right way or a wrong way to germinate or sow your seeds; you will have to find the right combination of moisture and temperature for your seed types.
Remember that when you start to sow your seeds you should always start with fresh new compost or potting soil, making sure that your pots and/or trays are clean. Label and stake your seeds as you plant them to prevent confusion and don’t allow your seeds to dry out.
Soak them for at least two hours ( keeping them moist but not soaking wet ) while you prepare the pots and trays, and as you ready your pots to keep a sharp eye out for slugs and snails, ( they get everywhere ).
Experiment with your seeds by trying new methods that may make your plant grow faster, larger, and healthier than the year before. Some seeds that you choose to plant will grow better after they are freshly harvested and can be sown any time of year, such as hardy perennials, while most seeds if kept in a cool dry place can be kept for many years and sown then.
Special Note: If you have small children, know what plants are poisonous, just like the plant is poisonous, so are its seeds. Keep the little ones out of DANGER.
Methods Of Sowing Seeds
There are several popular methods of sowing garden and flower seeds. If you plan to sow your seeds outside, there are a couple of things you should do first. Begin by soaking the seeds you plan to plant and while the seeds are soaking, prepare the ground for planting.
If you lightly tilled the soil in the fall, a light digging will be needed to break up any hard clumps of dirt from the winter months that will also be needed to loosen the soil and any hard stones. After a good raking of the surface to make it smooth you are ready to begin planting.
Scattering your seeds sometimes called the Broadcast Method is just that, scattering the seeds over the area to be planted, then gently raking them to cover and gently watering so as not to wash them away. This method is quick, simple, and easy and works well if you have a lot of small seeds and you are trying for a uniform size, color, or variety in a particular area.
Planting in rows is good when you want different sizes and colors in a particular spot, again prepare your soil, then making rows with a hoe and make a hole for your seeds. Start planting from the back row with the taller plants going there, then work your way down to the first row where the shorter plants will be, this way each row has a different height and if you like a different color, adding beauty to your flower garden, with flowers going from short to tall.
To sow seeds in flats in a greenhouse, depending on the size of your seeds, trays or pots, first, fill them with rich compost and either scatter the seeds in trays or make holes and plant them in pots cover lightly with soil, water then cover with old newspaper or glass covering to prevent the soil from drying out.
Individual pots are great for sowing larger seeds of different varieties, or you simply just don’t have enough space. Another great plus is that you won’t have to move them around while they are growing. Fill your pot with compost, sow the seed, water then cover it if needed.
If you choose to sow seeds outside, remember to keep a sharp eye out for stray cats, birds, and newly growing spring weeds.
Read also: Worm Composting and What You Need to Know