Seeds of Triumph

As the growing season has come towards its close I have been collecting seeds from a few of this year’s plants, to sow next year. With our lives so busy at the moment, we made a conscious decision not to try and collect any vegetable seeds this year, but along the way I have kept an eye on the ornamentals and stored what I could. First were the nasturtiums, which began dropping their green ridged parcels midsummer. I collected some, dropped some (which sprang up within weeks in the grit outside the back door) and pickled some…

Englishman’s capers …

The orange hue to the vinegar is due to a bright orange nasturtium flower that I initially dropped into the jar with the seeds but later discarded… It will be interesting to see how these taste! The remainder have dried and shrunk a little, and I shall sow these in the spring – although I suspect that plenty will appear around the vegetable beds unaided as I was not entirely diligent in collecting all the seeds that fell.

I rescued a few dozen sunflower seeds from the heads of our Giant Russian blooms from the grasp of the birds. This was timely as by last month there were no seeds left standing!

Then there were the trailing pansy friolina plants which I grew from seed collected several years ago, when we lived in the city and bought a dozen plug plants for our hanging baskets. I wasn’t sure that the seed would still be viable, but up they sprang and I packed the resulting plants into pots placed strategically around the perimeter of our house to liven up the “building site” over the summer.

Throughout the summer I again gathered up the seed capsules as they sprang open to reveal their stores of tiny round treasures within. Some of the capsules I collected were still closed when I picked them and added them to the carton standing on the windowsill – but not for long, as within a day the seeds dispersed and I could pick out the empty capsules to discard.

Obviously the spring mechanism by which these pods burst open is fairly strong, as several small seedlings then started to grow in the compost of other plants that shared the windowsill. I extracted a dozen of these towards the end of the summer and potted them on into their own pot which I put into the greenhouse. There some have already flowered again – tenacious plants, these tiny pansies, and fast!

The prolific French marigolds I have already shared with you. We now have more marigold seeds than I could ever sow! I hope to help organise a seed swap for the village in the spring, so hopefully they will bring a smile to some of our neighbours next year too.

And those marvellous purple poppies? Yes, I watched them closely as the last flower faded and the seed pods slowly ripened and darkened at the end of the summer. There was a terrible moment one afternoon when I saw the proud heads trampled carelessly down by a workman’s boots. My heart in my mouth, I ran to check them, and although some of the stems had broken, the rest I encouraged back to standing, and they held on long enough to ripen their round pods. Like shaking pepper from a pot, the tiny black seeds then spilled out into an envelope held beneath their heads. I snipped a couple of stems off into the envelope, heads and all, so as not to miss too many of the seeds. Some I left to fall where they stood, and hopefully bring a new flush next summer.

I collected seedpods from the sweet peas too; some I hope to sow in the next few weeks, the rest I shall sow in the spring.

A handful of dried hyssop flowerheads brought in from the garden also elicited a few dozen seeds, easily separated from the chaff, so that I can replace any plants that don’t survive the winter, and fill in the row that I began this year (I envisage a border of fragrant pink, blue and white flowers along one edge of the path – this year they were more punctuation than a line…).

I had a little surprise when the deep pink sedum flowerheads that I put in a couple of vases along with a hydrangea head or two to add a little colour to the kitchen and entrance hall suddenly sprinkled dozens of tiny black seeds onto the windowsills around them. I did not know that sedum produced seed in this way, believing that it was more usually propagated through cuttings, but I shall sow some in the spring and see what comes.

We ordered our vegetable seeds a week or so ago as well, and I seem to be amassing seeds for new ornamentals that I hope to be planting in the spring too… Possibly more than we’ll have space for even if we do manage to clear the garden in time. Already I’m dreaming grand designs for the spring, with winter barely approaching the threshold and the soil still warm.

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9 thoughts on “Seeds of Triumph

  1. Looking forward to hearing what the pickled Nasturtium seeds taste like. I’ve heard that they are like capers?
    My seed-saving this year is confined to a few Borlotti beans: I had one pod which produced some very dark-coloured beans, which I hope to be able to reproduce in greater quantity next year.

  2. I go through phases of collecting seeds from ornamentals. I’m very good at collecting them but then they get left in various paperbags until I have a wet or cold day. However, I’m not very good at remembering to sow them as I am beguiled with new seeds!!

    • I have run out of paper bags at the minute so lots of seeds are sitting around in various saucers and plastic tubs all over the place. I have all sorts of grand plans for making pretty envelopes for them all and storing them away for the winter, but keep running out of time. Better do something soon before they disappear (or are inadvertently thrown away!) Collecting seeds didn’t stop me ordering lots of new seeds for next year too, the greenhouse is going to be very full in the spring! 🙂

  3. Hi Sara – Your seeds are so delightful; all that promise packed into tiny parcels. But wish I had more patience with sowing and growing – often fail at the pricking out stage whereas I suspect you have ‘growing hands’ 😉 The trailing viola is especially pretty but the hydrangea & sedum are breathtaking.
    Laura x

    • Hi Laura, Thank you. I love the promise of the seeds. I can tend to leave things in seed trays a bit too long before I prick them out, I’m full of good resolutions to avoid that at the minute of course! x

  4. Sounds as if you have a wonderful “free plants” harvest! I’ve only collected poppy, foxglove, Knautia macedonica and campanula seed this year, mainly because I have lots of new perennial seed to try out to fill the many gaps in the borders. Interesting about the sedum seeds – I shall look forward to finding out how you get on with them, and if we ever get another dry day here might see if I can find some on mine.

    • Hi, the free plant harvest is not at all bad considering the general state of our garden at the minute! I bought and sowed some campanula seed late in the summer for next summer, so that’s hopefully something I’ll be collecting next year too! Shall keep you posted about the outcome of the sedum in the spring!

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