Green Fingers: Get saving and gather your own seed

James Vaughan


James Vaughan

Green Fingers: Get saving and gather your own seed

Old glass jars a great way to store saved seeds till next spring

IN our own garden this week we have been saving seeds from some of our favourite plants. In last week’s article I spoke about how best to take cuttings.

Taking cuttings and gathering seeds are two of the best ways of increasing your stock of plants. Seeds are much more resilient than many of you may think. I once saw a tomato plant growing out of the concrete at the Milk Market in Limerick City. This most likely grew from a loose tomato that landed on the ground. Grain seed from the Pyramids has been germinated by scientists wishing to test it viability. This seed is over 3,000 years old and it still grew !

Gathering your own seed is better than cuttings because seed does not carry viruses which cuttings may do. However, cuttings have the advantage of being genetically identical to the parent plant - including colour. Seeds may not always bear identical form or flower colours as the plant you get them from. If you have plants that are hybrids or are called ‘F1 Hybrids’ then it is unlikely that the seed will be the same as the parent plant.

Gathering seed

Gathering seed is an easy process - simply gather the seed and seed heads into paper envelopes. You need to ensure that the seed fully dries out before storing it. If the seed is a little damp when you harvest it then simply place it on a sunny windowsill for a couple of days. This will ensure that the seed will remain viable until next year. I would advise you not to store seed in the airing cupboard or hot press.

This is because these places may be too warm and will actually dry out the seed. You will then need to separate the seed from any shell around the seeds. This is a delicate process and can only be achieved if the seed is very dry - crisp dry. Make sure to label the seeds including flower type and colour.

Seed from Annuals

Common annuals that provide viable seed are marigolds, bizzy lizzy, cosmos and antirrinum. Whichever of these plants you have the way to gather the seeds are the same as mentioned above. As you gather various seeds you will notice how different and unique each plant seed is. Marigolds have thin long seed. Bizzy lizzy are more of your average oval seed shape. Antirrinums provide several hundred seeds per flower. A single flowerhead could hold thousands of seeds.

Seeds from perennials

Seed from perennials are less viable than seeds gathered from annuals. This is because perennials are more likely to be a hybrid. Despite this it is always worth a try.

So why not gather your own seeds and label them and swap seeds with others . In this way you can add extra colour to your garden and at no extra cost.

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