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…
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.