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05/07/2014 at 22:50
Well there cetainly is much interest this subject. Might I be allowed to add a few tips. To bin with, we are all aware that different plants flower and set seed at a variety of times. So we can't expect to go into the garden or plot, armed with an assortment of jars, boxes and packets, fully expecting to return indoors with loads of seeds. Probably a major factor to seed collecting is, being able to recognize just when to pick the pods. Then to be aware of the sensitivity of some pods. I well recall one year in the greenhouse. For the life of me, I can't remember the plant but. The pods were like tiny pea pods. Many had turned a rich bronze colour. So Mike armed with a pair of fine nail scissors in one hand and a small container in the other. I am still convinced that I hadn't actually touched the plant when, like rapid fire. Pods were bursting open and tiny seeds were being fired all over the place. In the wild. Ivy leaved toadflax is a great marksman. When you see tiny plants growing through the cement pointing of walls. Anyway, as my greenhouse staging is compost covered. It wasn't long before the whole are resembled a bed of mustard and cress. But I wanted the seeds, so the next attempt called for better preparation. More or less an open fronted box lined with white paper. In many cases it is wise to first obtain a supply of paper bags, very small ones, such as kids used to be able to buy a few pence worth of sweets in. As the time draws close for the pods to open, the pod can be bagged up, using some twine etc to close the bag. Incidentally, I don't know if you have a local 99p shop close by. They stock an assortment of green shaped plastic ties but with a spring clip. Intended to hold stems to canes etc. They are ideal. Please don't be in a hurry to gather the seed. In time you will become expert at identifying all the tell tale indicators. A special tip, regarding really fleshy podded seeds such as Irises. Just as these are swelling up, our arch enemies snails and slugs are really gorging themselves. If invaded, then I suggest you cut off the pod bearing stem, as low down as possible. Then in an out of the way place. Hang the stems upside down. Despite the many myths that once a fower has been pollinated/fertilized then all is well. WRONG. Just like a tiny embyo in the mothers womb, the tiny seeds require feeding. Leaving a long stalk attached, and hanging upside down. A good degree of natural feed will drain into the seed capsule. Sadly so many collectectors become dissappointed because their saved seed fails. Mainly this is down to collecting unripe seed. In addition to this. Have you perhaps suffered distress, when picking up your seed collection ready for sowing, and wow!. Where have all those glossy black seeds gone. In your hand you have nowt but dust. I am fortunate in this respect. [I am attempting to avoid the odd comment...big head] I do a lot of lab research and the microscope reveals so much. So taking a really close look at this dust. Yes I identify minute remains of seeds, and what is all this other dust. Opening up the magnification. OK. There are dust/dirt particles but als there are loads of tiny microscopic dead bodies of mites. I have mentioned before that in the case of slugs. Even with the naked eye, one can see loads of mites bugs etc rushing about all over the body. With seeds. Not so obvious. Perhaps in the past I may have suggested a quick spray of insecticide over the seeds. I have now realised that some seeds can actually absorb such chemicals and this can cause mutations etc even death to the seed. Might I suggest. Placing the collected seed into a capped container. Then using the container in much the same way as a field collector might, as a killing jar, a tiny wad of cotton wool soaked in some proprietary chemical. The inside air beco
06/07/2014 at 02:49

Thanks for the tip Mike. I had to smile when you wrote about the seeds being fired all over the place. I imagined you talking cover while all the seeds shot out all over your greenhouse.

06/07/2014 at 14:46

They are busy lizzie seeds.

06/07/2014 at 15:16

I really need to collect some seed from my Brown Eyed Girl sunflower as you can't but them, so any tips on how to do it successfully would be gratefully received  I will leave the seeds for the birds on the plants in the borders but the ones near the door in pot's I am hoping to collect as the birds don't come near the door anyway.

06/07/2014 at 15:32

When it's nearly ripe tie a paper bag over its head to catch them.

The fancy colours won't necessarily come true

06/07/2014 at 17:45

Thanks Nut, I'll give it a go, nothing to lose really so no harm in trying but I've never saved seeds before 

06/07/2014 at 18:00

OL..........there isn't much of a mystery to saving seeds........if possible, it is always best to let them ripen on the plant but if time and weather doesn't permit, you can still harvest seeds by collecting nearly ripe  pods/heads in a paper bag and placing/hanging in sunny, dry spot.  You may not get all to ripen this way but the majority will.  Then you just pick out the plumpest ones to store. Kept correctly, you will have as much chance of germinating them as you would from bought seed.

As Mike suggests, it is always best to let nature take it's course but for those without the time to keep an eagle eye on flower heads, it can still be done.  It isn't exactly rocket science so don't worry

Sorry, that last sentence sounds rather rude and patronising.......I didn't mean it that way as I'm sure you will realise.  Just that anyone can harvest their own seed with just a couple of pointers  I'll stop here before I dig an even deeper hole to sink into


06/07/2014 at 18:17

Keep digging Philippa, and please come here to do it, we have been digging a pond.

06/07/2014 at 18:21

OL, i have some brown eyed girl seeds if you dont collect, your more than welcome to them. I have opened them but I am sure they keep ok.

06/07/2014 at 18:22
06/07/2014 at 18:22

Thank you Phillippa and no offence taken at all and it didn't sound rude or patronising, I understand what you mean.  As you know I am still learning and as with most things I've done this year it just seems a bit daunting when it's something you haven't done before, after this year it will be second nature I'm sure but all helpful tips gladly welcome 

06/07/2014 at 18:48
Ooops not all of my post printed up. Philippa. You're no Irish by any chance, are you? They like digging holes. Incidentally just a small fact. Seed saving does have it's if's and but's. For instance. Inadequetly ripened seed will not always germinate, and problems can occure with semi-ripe seed. Very few types of seed can be sown in the green and give satisfactory results. Just a tip.
06/07/2014 at 18:52

there are some good videos on YouTube specific to various plants and vegetables. Collecting seeds is well worth it, in my opinion; much better than paying for more new ones while you throw out perfectly good ones you have grown yourself!

06/07/2014 at 18:59
Would those silica sachets you get in new shoes etc be any good at keeping seeds fresh?
06/07/2014 at 19:22

Lyn..........I'll help you dig your pond if you promise to help me dig my allotment

Mike......if you read my post, you will note that I said you could ripen seed off the plant but doing it that way would not be 100%.  I never suggested that "green" seeds would germinate or indeed that they would be worth even saving.  That is why I suggested picking through them and saving the best.  I have used both methods and have had success either way.  I'm merely saying that even beginners can harvest their own seeds ( and germinate successfully) if they just follow a couple of basic rules.  Yes, of course the science is interesting to many of us ( tho I suspect many of us are aware of the science behind it )......just seems little point in scaring people off from what is, after all, quite a basic thing.  You mentioned a tip ? but not sure what that was ?


06/07/2014 at 19:59
Mike,that fine dust you mentioned.I got some while collecting delphinium seeds today.I can quite clearly tell which are seeds and which is dust.Would it be ok to just store them like that or somehow sift the dust out? I've got the seeds in a white envelope.Oh and one seed pod was kind of borderline ripe.Of the three seed 'chambers' if you like,two were brown and papery while the third had a greenish tinge still.I'm assuming those last ones might not be so successful on germinating.
06/07/2014 at 20:59
Fishy65. If my memory serves me correct, from the original post. My mention of 'dust' related to what had accumulated after the seed had been collected cleaned and stored. The dust was actually the remains of seeds that had been eaten by the tiny bugs, and also the dead remains of the bugs themselves. I hope this helps.
If I may. In no way do I ever set out to deter anyone from trying things out. Rather I like to pass on other points that I have learned over time. I do feel that whether intentionally or not, that some just don't wish to know. I can assure one and all. I do my best to please people rather than rub them up the wrong way. Just enjoy your hobby.
06/07/2014 at 22:01
I missed your post earlier Lyn, that's very kind of you but do you not want to use them? I will try and save my seeds and if I fail I will let you know. Thanks again
06/07/2014 at 23:21

I really enjoyed reading your story/post Mike.  I save seed all the time and regard it as part of the gardening process. I still buy some but save most from what I have grown and like. has good info on the subject I have found. 

07/07/2014 at 17:56

Just to clarify my earlier post...........when I said I had success with both methods, I was referring to either letting the seeds ripen naturally on the plant before collecting OR removing the seed head/pod when almost ripe and placing in a sunny site for the ripening process to complete.

I had thought it was clear but perhaps not ....... so, my apologies to any who found it misleading

I did say that the natural process was the best method but, allowing for the vagaries of germination, I can only reiterate that both methods work for me. 

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