FOR THE MAGAZINE: What are your favorite tips for saving seeds?

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by wilderness_NY_Z4 wilderness_NY_Z4 1 month ago.

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  • #5155353 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Birds & Blooms wants to know: What are your favorite tips for saving seeds?

    Tell us your tips and tricks for choosing and collecting seeds from your garden plants, as well organizing and storing them for future planting. Your answer might be printed in an upcoming issue of Birds & Blooms magazine, so give us your best ideas and suggestions!

    Feel free to include photos of your seed storage ideas. If you need help posting photos, click here.


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Jill Staake Jill Staake.
    #5155361 Report Abuse
    MDgreenery
    MDgreenery
    Participant

    Hi Jill,

    When the seeds are brown & ready, I usually wait for a dry spell of about 2 or 3 days of warmth. Quite often I have a paper towel or napkin by the garden door (they come in handy for all the messes I make) so I’ll take one sheet out with me as I walk around the plant I want to collect seeds from that day. If I collect from more than one type of plant I will tear the towel in pieces so I can keep the seeds separated.

    Once indoors I will write the name of the flower I collected the seed from as well as the date on the towel…sometimes…often, I will skip this part & toss the seed in one of my miniature ceramic cups/tea pots/vases & the like. Then those seeds will be all but forgotten until later that year when I start filling peat pellets for the winter months.

    Last year I tossed what seemed like a never ending supply of Old Fashioned Climbing Petunia seeds right back into the pot from which the flowers bloomed. Left the shallow pot on the balcony all winter long (never watered them except for the occasional rain water or snow that would drift in) & now it looks like all 1000;-) seedlings have taken off in that one pot.

    Most of the seeds I save are in the open & only covered by the paper towel (exposed to room temperature) for as long as I care to keep them…and sometimes they will sit for years until I’m ready to plant them. So far I’ve had good results with this method.

     


    #5155373 Report Abuse
    Gayle
    Gayle
    Participant

    Wait for the seed pods to get brown and dried out before trying to collect any seeds  You also need to remember that petals from blooms (such as Zinnias & Coneflowers) are not the same as seeds.  You sometimes have to look for the seeds.  If they are not in an actual seed pod then they most likely will be in the center part of the bloom.

    Make sure the seeds are completely dry before putting them in any kind of container.

    If you are keeping them for sowing later, it’s best to store them in someplace that will remain cool & dry like  the frig.

    This is my storage  system.  All seeds are sorted alphabetically & kept in envelopes or those blank greeting cards you get in the mail at times.

    The container is a plastic storage box which stays in the frig year round.  There’s also supplies in there like small plastic envelopes to put the seeds in, pens, tape, small notebook, etc;

     


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    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gayle Gayle.
    #5155375 Report Abuse

    hopscotch
    Participant

    I also wait till the pods look pretty dry.  I take small plastic bowls (KFC side dishes) to the garden and put each variety of seed in a bowl.  I bring them in the house, or sit at the patio table and clean the chaff out of them.  Then I tear little pieces of paper and write the names of each variety I have collected.  They go in the right bowl.  After a couple days, I take the clean seeds and put them in individual paper envelopes (I use the small coin envelopes), then put them in a snack size plastic bag, and put them in the plastic box – one for annuals, and one for perennials.  Then they go in the refrigerator vegetable drawer until I’m ready to plant them again.  This goes on from the middle of June right up to October and sometimes November.  I share my seeds with a lot of other people, so I have a lot of seeds and quite a variety.


    #5155389 Report Abuse
    SunshineNY6
    SunshineNY6
    Participant

    When I have a pretty or unusual bloom that I want to save seeds for I will mark it by attaching a plastic bread bag tag to the stem. There is just enough room to write the color on it. That way after it is done blooming, I won’t forget what color it was. I also abbreviate what it is. BES for blackeyed Susan or Zin for zinnia.


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    #5155393 Report Abuse
    SunshineNY6
    SunshineNY6
    Participant

    I can’t stress enough to label what they are immediately when they are harvested. Otherwise many of them all get the name Mystery or Maybe.


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    #5155408 Report Abuse
    Kathy
    Kathy
    Participant

    When seed pods are good and ripe (usually brown) I take a bag of small brown lunch bags and a black marker out with me to the garden. As I take the seed pods off the plant I put them in a bag, mark it right away and fold down the top before going to a different variety of plant.  Do not use plastic because the seeds will mold if they are not quite dry. I let the bags sit in the house for at least a week to dry. Take the seeds from the seed pod. Clean your area before doing another variety so you don’t mix the seeds.

    I use to put the seeds in marked envelopes and then in alphabetical order in  shoe boxes and then into the fridge but the boxes took up too much room in the fridge and if you have seeds in an envelope and you want to use some or share some, the envelope is then open and the remaining ones would end up spilling.

    So this is my new way to keep them without using a lot of space in the fridge.

    I bought the pill containers at a dollar store, put a small label over each cap and put the seeds in. Each day holds a lot more seeds than I expected them to. I then layered the containers in a small Tupperware container. Example: Bottom layer is vegetable seeds, next layer is annuals and the next layer is perennials. Neat, organized and uses up little space.



    Kathy zone4

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    #5155422 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Wow great ideas. I do about the same way storing after the are dry. One thing I do for catching columbine seeds is tie a few of the seed heads in a knee high stocking. That way they dry, still on the vine, and I do not lose them.


    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by SandraRW SandraRW.
    #5155523 Report Abuse
    growingranny_va_z7
    growingranny_va_z7
    Participant

    I collect mine in a small cup, bring them in and put them on a paper towel to dry well..marking the towel with the name and color. When they are good and dry, I put them into small zip locks. I have two crisper drawers in my fridge … one for veggies and one for seeds. I have two big zip locks, one for veggies and one for flowers. They sit there until spring when it is time to be started.


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    #5155544 Report Abuse
    plantdoctorzn4
    plantdoctorzn4
    Participant

    My 1st tip is….if you want to save seeds from annuals….do not do it now.  At this time you need to be deadheading to enjoy continuous blooms for the rest of summer.  I usually quit deadheading around the Labor Day and that gives plenty of time for the seed pods to ripen and be collected before Winter sets in.

    It is necessary to leave the seed pods on the plant as long as possible if you wish to have viable seeds.  I keep an eye on them and try to collect before they are blown away.  I save all of the envelopes from my junk mail to collect them in.  I mark on the envelope what the seed is.  I then put the envelopes on a warm sunny window sill until I am certain that they are dry.  At that time they are placed into my seed stash containers in the refrigerator until time to plant.

    My stash containers are tupperware bread boxes.  I also alphabetize them for my convenience.



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    #5157403 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    I love everyone’s creative storage tips! Keep sharing, folks!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5157545 Report Abuse

    Sandra
    Participant

    I have a collection kit that is ready year-round and is used for keeping and disposal.

    Gloves; garden shears; rubber bands; permanent marker; paper lunch bags; light-duty aluminum write-on tags; and an old ball point pen.

    I have enough seeds to give each their own lunch-sized paper bag, which is marked in detail with the permanent marker just before I clip the seed pods. Then there are prolific seeders; I clip the seeds and give them away or dispose of them.

    Paper bags are excellent for collecting pests such as aphids. We practice doing little harm, so slugs and other unwanted, larger pests are chucked over the fence where they can munch the weeds on the hillside. To organize, I fold over the tops of each lunch bag and plop them into a paper shopping bag. Do mark with early, mid or late season so you don’t miss a window of  opportunity.

    The aluminum tags (sample) never fade because the pressure of the ball point pen, working or not, simply carves the name into the soft metal. I can carve the details of perennials while marking the location so I don’t dig them up while planting other perennials!

    The gloves, well there’s always something weedy growing. The rubber bands I use on perennials as their leaves die back. I fold the leaves over and band them so they get the maximum nutrition from photosynthesis yet aren’t messy or in the way of other perennials that have begun to bloom.

    I have to agree with plantdoctorzn4 about annuals; enjoy the blooms by deadheading and time the seed harvest for the latest possible time. There will still be plenty of pollinators around to do their work.


    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Sandra. Reason: Didn't post and wasn't correct when I copy/pasted the entry
    #5157789 Report Abuse
    wilderness_NY_Z4
    wilderness_NY_Z4
    Participant

    I don’t save many flower seed however, I do grow some heirloom vegetables especially tomatoes.

    You want tomatoes that are just turning from green to red.  Cut the bottom off and squeeze the seed into a clean glass jar.  Mark the jar with the variety and cover the jar with cheese cloth and let sit and ferment for 3-14 days.  When fermenting is done stir the seed with a fork and fill the jar with water.  Pour off the water several times until there is no more floating particles and the seed look pretty clean.  Dump the seed into a fine strainer and rinse under running water until the seeds are clean.  To prevent any seed born disease place the seed in a solution of 1 part bleach to 5 part water and soak for 1-2 minutes, dump into a clean strainer and rinse well with clean water.  Dump onto a cloth and place where they will not be exposed to sun for 2-4 weeks until they are thoroughly dry.  Store in a glass container with a tight lid to keep moisture out.  This method will keep seeds viable for 10 years.

    This may sound like a lot of work but I was happy this year that I do it this way.  I have an heirloom Italian Paste tomato that is not available on the market.  It has been handed down from generation to generation for many years so if I lose the seed I am out of luck.  For some reason the seed I saved this past year was not viable but fortunately I had old seed to fall back on and the viability was still at 100%.  I do collect seed from the first fruit that are ready as I am always concerned about late blight and can’t save the seed if the plants have been hit by it.

    I learned this information a few years ago from an another Community Member, Snowwolf.


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    Community Team Member wildernessny@gmail.com

    #5157792 Report Abuse
    wilderness_NY_Z4
    wilderness_NY_Z4
    Participant

    I am always ready to collect seed where ever I am.  I keep small baggies in the car at all times.  You never know where you might find a plant that needs deadheading especially at the community garden and around town where no one minds if you help to keep the plants looking nice.


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    Community Team Member wildernessny@gmail.com

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