Harvesting Flower and Vegetable Seeds


I’ve been collecting flower seeds since I was little, during my summers spent in Maine. I loved walking through my grandmothers rock gardens, and snapping off the dried pods from Lupines, Columbines and Coreopsis and shaking the seeds into a paper bag. When I became a mother, I would take my daughters Arielle and Lucie through the gardens and they helped me harvest those same seeds and we dropped them all through my family’s place, anticipating lots of flowers the following summer. We wanted flowers everywhere!

Harvesting flower seeds is one of my favorite garden tasks. I love collecting the dried pods, spreading the seed out on newspaper to dry and putting them in a labeled glass jar, with a silica gel packet to soak up any bits of moisture. I store them in my fridge until I’m ready to plant them again or in a cool, dry place.

How to collect seeds:

1-With garden sheers, cut and collect seed pods from your flowers, herbs and vegetables into a bucket, paper bag or whatever is handy. I love aprons because it’s so easy to stuff the pockets full of pods as you wander through the garden.

2-Try and keep the seed pods separate. Open up the pods and dry the seeds separately as well on newspaper in a cool/shade spot indoors or in a ventilated box outside. Make sure to keep the lid on, to discourage birds and rodents from serving themselves.

3-When the seeds feel dry, which can take a few days, I either put them into paper envelopes, labeling each one or I store them in re-purposed glass jars. I have loads of mustard and jam jars, which are perfect for seed storage. Drop a silica gel packet inside the jar-I save those packets whenever I find one in a parcel or in something I bought.

For beginners, this is my list of the easiest  seeds to harvest, dry and replant: Sunflower, Lupine, Columbine, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Marigold, Zinnia, Lettuce, all Beans, all Peas, Sorrel  and Cilantro.

It’s more important than ever that we all save seeds from our organic gardens, especially the herbs and vegetables and share those with our friends. Being able to grow your own food, year after year, using seeds from plants that you have grown is very satisfying, and feels fantastic being so self-sufficient. With GM seeds, you can’t do that. Long live organic seeds!

Just harvested Cosmos from my garden-A fun and  easy seed to collect

Cosmos seeds drying, with a few Mexican Sunflower seeds mixed in

Sunflower seeds are easy to harvest, just don’t let them dry out too much

Lovely dried Zinnia seeds

Herb and flower seeds in jars, ready to be given to some of my friends for Christmas

Mexican Sunflower seeds from my garden given to a fantastic gardener, my friend and film director Robert Dornhelm

My purple string beans growing from last years harvest. Just gorgeous!


For more info about seed collecting and buying:

The Seed Library of Los Angeles:http://slola.org/

Seed Savers Exchange:http://www.seedsavers.org/

The Organic Seed Alliance:http://www.seedalliance.org/










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