Here we are in the midst of summer, with fall arriving in less than a month. I bet as you check your garden beds you’re coming across lettuce that has gone to seed or marigolds you’ve forgotten to deadhead. If your seedy plants aren’t hybrids, consider collecting some of that seed and save it for next year.
For many types of plant, harvesting seed is easy. Some seedheads give up their seeds with a simple shake or two. Shake some dry seedheads of chives over a piece of paper, for example, and you’ll soon have hundreds of seed to sow in the spring. With lettuce and marigolds, you might need to pull the seeds from the spent flowers, but they’ll give with only a gentle tug.
Let the seed dry in a warm place out of direct light for a couple days, then package what you’ve got in an envelope or small plastic bag. Put the packs in an old glass jar or photo sleeves, and store in a cool, dry place out of the light. Don’t forget to label your packs and make a list of what you’ve kept, so you’ll be better able to do your garden planning come spring.
Some types of plant require a little more work than this. In a few weeks, I’ll talk about seed-saving for tomatoes, squash, cukes, and peppers.
BTW, when you do your seed-collecting, collect from your best plants. And unless those plants are ones whose seeds are the crop, such as coriander, be sure to harvest seeds from plants that are late to go to seed. This is especially important for lettuce and other leaf-crops. After all, for these crops you want to select for steady leaf-production, not seed-setting, right?