Tuesday, August 20, 2013

saving garden seed

This is a great time of year to think about saving seeds. A number of garden plants are either starting to bolt and flower, or are already bearing seeds at this time. Rather than pull plants once they're past their prime, consider leaving some to complete the cycle of growth in your garden.

I have been been focusing almost 100% on growing heirloom varieties, which makes seed saving feel even more rewarding. For example, the melons I'm growing are from seed that dates back to the 1800s. There is quite a history in that plant! I take it as a responsibility and a challenge, and one that I enjoy.

I thought I'd share some of what's happening in our garden right now, in terms of seed production.

Sage seed is ready for harvest. See the dark, round seeds inside the dried flower heads?

We hardly need to save calendula this year, as I harvested an enormous amount last year, but I have been keeping a few seed heads here and there. Calendula seed is ready to harvest when the seeds easily rub away from the flower head.

I have had this enormous Bull's Blood beet plant in the garden all spring and summer (I should have taken a photo of the whole plant!). It's actually been kind of an unsightly nuisance, in the most inconvenient location, but I have been patient. There will be hundreds, maybe thousands of seed pods to harvest soon. Beet seed is also shown above in the first image.

 Some of the earliest of the pea vines I planted have a few pods coming close to harvest. With peas and beans, simply leave some pods on the vine until they are completely dried. Then you can remove the inner peas/beans and store.

Coriander (cilantro) seed is coming along. I will use some for cooking, and save some for planting. Cilantro flowers also add a delicate beauty to the garden bed.

Kale, planted last year, is another monstrous tangle that I have been waiting patiently for. The pods are now dry and the seeds fully mature. There is more than enough seed on this plant grow countless gardens full of kale.

 Honey bees like when plants are left to go to seed, too. They are completely crazy for the leek flowers shown above, and at most any given time you can go out and find 2-6 honeybees on any given flower head.

Here is a brief post I wrote about seed saving last year as well, if you are interested.

Do you save seed? I'd love to know anything you'd like to share about your own experience.


  1. Such a great reminder. I usually forget about saving seeds until I wonder why so many birds are gathered around our bolted lettuce. Lovely photos!

  2. abby, i keep meaning to post about green coriander seed. we collected a huge honey jar of green coriander and are keeping it in the freezer. the flavor is much fresher than the brown dried coriander. you should try them!

    1. Thanks Shari, i will definitely try them!

  3. I'm bad because, not only do I save seeds but I also, very naughtily, save seeds from RBG Kew and not just plant them in my garden in Oxfordshire, but smuggle them to my garden in Vancouver too. How bad is that? (But I do have a Master Gardener degree so I do know how to safeguard the environment.)