Saving seeds a very simple garden task

By: 
Rob Zimmer
Columnist

By now, most of our garden plants have gone to seed with the coming of November. This gives us a great opportunity to collect and save the seeds of some of our favorite plants, especially annuals, tomatoes, peppers, perennials and native wildflowers and grasses.

Collecting and saving the seeds of our garden plants is not as intimidating as it seems. In fact, it is one of the simplest garden tasks we can enjoy.

The key to collecting and saving seeds is to keep them dry. The most common mistakes seed collectors make is to allow them to get to moist or damp. This results in quick losses as the seeds simply rot away or become infested with mold.

To prevent this, one of the simplest things we can do is store seeds in paper envelopes or paper bags, rather than sandwich bags or plastic.

They can also be stored in airtight glass jars, plastic vials or other containers that can be placed in a cool, dry location for the winter months.

The seeds of annuals, especially easily collected ones like marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, sunflowers and others, are easy to obtain in the garden. Simply snap off flower heads and remove the seeds with your fingertips.

For large quantities, place seed heads in a paper bag or a covered pail and shake vigorously. Many of the seeds will separate, allowing you to easily remove the chaff and store the seed.

Seeds from perennials, such as hosta, coneflower, black-eyed Susan, aster, delphinium, columbine, lupine and many others, can be collected and stored the same way. For a fun mixture, simply combine all of the seeds together and plant that way in the spring.

Garden edibles, such as tomatoes and peppers, are also wonderful choices for saving seed. Especially true of heirloom varieties of tomatoes and peppers that come true to type from seed, collecting and saving this precious resource is a money saver and it allows you to grow a large variety of plants.

There are many different ways to collect and save the seeds of peppers and tomatoes. From simply scooping them out and allowing them to dry, to emulsifying, to placing them in a blender to separate the seeds and other methods. A simple online search will showcase all of these different ways to collect and preserve heirloom tomato and pepper seeds.

Saving seeds is a fun and enjoyable garden hobby. The more you explore, the more you will enjoy propagating your own plants from seeds harvested right at home.