Frugal is the way forward and us gardeners always love a bargain and getting something for nothing. Whether you are grow vegetables to swap with your neighbour our barter with friends and family, there is always a way to get rid of some unwanted and excess garden plants, vegetables and seeds in return for something.
Seeds storing is another great way to get something for free and with the abundance of seeds that some garden flowering plants can produce you’ll certainly be able to barter yourself a whole pile of goodies in exchange
The art of seed collecting is as old as the hills and is as easy as it is rewarding. The first important point is timing. Ideally seeds should only be collected from the flowering plants well after the flower has passed and after it has turned brown. That this point the flower will have within it a fertilised egg which will have developed into a new seed complete with hardened seed coat and a store of essential nutrients for plant growth. If you pick flowers to collect the seeds before this has had time to happen them the seeds will not have formed fully- they will lack a hard seed coat and will not have enough nutrients to support the early stages of growth
When collecting seeds you need to know where to look or listen!. Many flowering plants develop hollow ovaries with seeds within. This formation has created a natural rattle such as that seen on the poppy, that when you shake it, it rattles. So this can be a great way to find ripe seeds and to know when the seeds are ripe.
To collect the seeds you can do one of two things; you can collect the individual seeds or you can simply pick the entire dead flower head and store the whole lot. This second method would be more popular as with some plants it can be hard to distinguish between what is parts of the flower and what is the actual seeds. The seeds of flowers can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Generally the flower’s seed is located under and inside the flower, to be more exact the seeds are found at the base of the flower’s ‘style’ which is the female ‘vase’ shape organ which forms the centre of most flowers.
Labels! This is also an important step. Seeds that are collected will need to be stored over the winter months for planting the following spring. When you store them make sure that you label them – including the name and date that they were collected. Also before storing seeds clean them by removing any dirt, old leaves and flower parts. These parts are more likely to decompose and could lead to mould forming if left with your seeds.
Finally store the seeds in a cool, airy and dry place. If your seeds get wet they are ruined. Darkness is fine as the seeds once germinate if water is absent. So, again, keep them dry.
Some of the easiest flowers to collect seeds from include:
Marigolds, Aquilegia, lupins, foxgloves, poppies, Californian poppies, lunaria, alliums and nigella.