One of my favorite fall garden tasks is saving seeds. This week's "Organic Gardening with Jeanne" column for RawPeople is all about seed saving.
I learned how to save seeds as a little girl. Our next door neighbor, Mr. Hoffman, was a retired chemistry teacher from Sewanahaka High School. He had grown up near Rottkamp's farm in Elmont (now completely paved over and very New York City-like, but when Mr. Hoffman was a boy it was a big farm).
Mr. Hoffman was like an adopted grandfather to me, and he didn't mind me tagging along in the garden. He'd built his house in Floral Park and was one of the first on the block, so when he bought the land he bought a lot and a half - and he used the half a lot to create a mini farm. When I'd give people my address in Floral Park, they'd frown a bit and then say, "Oh, next to the farm with the corn stalks?" and they'd know exactly where I lived. (After he moved away, the new neighbors used the half a lot to build a garage and expand their house; I understood, but it was hard to see a driveway and slick new garage on that old bit of farm.)
Mr. Hoffman taught me to collect pansy seeds. He had a permanent patch of pansies just outside of his back door. He taught me how to tell when the seeds were dry enough, how to pry open the pod and extract the pepper-sized seed grains.
Today, I love collecting seeds. I collect buckets of marigold seeds. The marigolds in our garden now are all a mixed lot, descended from seeds my father in law planted in his garden in Huntington. Someone posted a comment on this blog asking what variety they are, and at this point I have no idea - they've bred and interbred, midgets and big tall ones, until we have this robust, tough as iron, orange-red type that just reseeds and thrives.
I collect zinnia seeds, sunflower seeds, morning glory, Echinacea and helopsis. I tried collecting Crepe myrtle last year, but somehow they didn't come up, although the Crepe myrtles did reseed in the same bed and now I have a delightful little plant coming up.
Before the rain comes this weekend, I'll start collecting some seeds today.
If you've never collected seeds, it is easy, depending on the plant - and very satisfying to see what you collected in the fall come back in the spring. To me, it gives continuity to the garden, reminding me of the cycles of the seasons.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Today we are recovering from over four hours of gardening yesterday. The weeds seem to grow faster than the flowers. I feel as if for every one chore there are six more waiting. The trellis groans under the weight of the morning glories, and the vines are so prolific they now trail out into the iris bed. Seed packets purchased for a dime at Dollar General blossomed into overflowing beds of Bachelor's Buttons, cosmos, Marigolds, Sweet Alyssum, and snapdragons. Other triumphs include lavender started under grow-lights in the cellar this winter, coreopsis also grown from seeds, and tiny ecchinacea plants too. Even the roses survived the onslaught of Japanese Beetles and the Blaze climber continues to form a pleasant mounded shape covered with red flowers!
We are planning the vegetable garden now. I've asked John to construct raised beds, and he showed me yesterday an idea for a fence that looks great to me. I don't think it's deer or bear proof, but certainly it will keep out rabbits and with luck the groundhog.