Sometimes we need a gentle reminder to get into the garden and collect a supply of seed.
Some plant seeds are easy to collect. I’ve a few beans where the pods are dry and brittle, perfect for collecting. All I need to do is break the pods open and extract the beans.
It can be hard to know when seeds are ready to collect, but for many plants when the seed pods or seed heads are dry and papery you know they’re ready.
With the more fleshy fruits it’s often best to salvage the seed when the fruits are really soft.
Common fleshy fruits include cucumbers and eggplants.
Pumpkins and capsicums are a bit different because the seeds are easily scooped out of the fruit.
Now back to fleshy fruit - I’ll use tomatoes as an example.
Allow the tomatoes to become really ripe, then let them sit a while longer until the fruit is beginning to rot.
At this point put the tomatoes into a bucket of water and rub them between your hands until the seeds and the flesh and skin are well separated.
The seed will mainly sink to the bottom and you can pour the water out of the bucket and rescue the seed. Spread the seed out on paper towel and place them in a warm spot until they’re quite dry.
Seed that is well dried can be effectively stored in envelopes, but always ensure the envelopes are labelled with the seed they contain.
Seed that is stored before it’s perfectly dry might rot in the envelope and that’s no good.
Keep your seed in a cool and dark place with little temperature fluctuation for best results.
In our hot climate most fruits will happily dry out while on the parent plant.
I collected hollyhock seed this morning straight from the papery seedpods.
The seeds are dry, but I’ll pop them in a warm spot for a couple of days to make sure all is well.
It’s a fairly common mistake to separate fruits from the parent plant before they’ve finished developing. Seed that’s collected too early won’t grow.
A lot of seed collecting is common sense, if it looks dry, collect it. If it’s still green and fleshy, leave it to dry out.
The satisfaction of collecting and growing your own seed is enormous, and the savings should make gardening so much more fun.
Valibo Bonsai Workshops are on again this year. Valibo Nursery on Urana Road Lavington will be conducting a series of bonsai workshops throughout the year. Workshops include beginners, styling, maintenance and forest. More details on dates and prices in the next few weeks.