Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Time to Gather and Save Those Seeds

Autumn is here, and it's time to start checking your flowers, trees, and bushes for seeds to trade, sell, or keep for next year's crop!


Of course, seeds are the result of the two parents, just like any offspring. If your pink zinnia was fertilized by the neighbor's variegated red and white zinnia, the offspring will probably not look exactly like either parent! In fact, with zinnias, the offspring of unlike colors is usually a light mauve-purple hue. It's pretty, but there isn't much variety. 

But some seeds are more likely to be "true" than others. They are more likely, in other words, to look like the plant that bore them. Around here, the red yucca is grown heavily, and is much more likely to be fertilized by another red yucca than the less-often-grown yellow yucca. So, you can gather red yucca seeds with confidence here.

I like to gather the seeds of the Texas Mountain Laurel especially. They're shown above. Not only are they gorgeous put into a jar or glass, but they will be true to the parent, due to the lack of other laurels growing in the area. They fertilize each other; no interlopers to change the strain! Native peoples once drilled these into beads and used their coral color to great effect in jewelry. The seeds are extremely hard and durable.

Make sure any seeds are completely dry before you store them. I suggest storing in paper or glassine envelopes. MANY folks who store seeds just hand-fold a little "envelope" and put the seeds in it. Then put the envelopes into a jar with one of those little silica gel packs that often comes with medicines or food, if you have one handy. If you don't have a gel dessicant handy, consider putting a handful of plain white rice (NOT COOKED RICE) and a tablespoon of salt into the jar, then a piece of paper towel, a coffee filter, or cupcake liner so that the salt is kept away from the seeds completely (or bundle the rice and salt in a coffee filter and secure). Place the little paper or glassine envelopes in and put the lid on.

Store in a cool, dry place, as they always say. Now you're ready for next year's planting!

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