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Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's September! Let's Collect Seeds!

There are any number of September food celebrations that I could be posting about today. There's National Mushroom Month, National Honey Month, National Chicken Month, National Rice Month and National Whole Grains Month just to name a few. And that dear readers is all I am doing today; mentioning:)

In one form or other, I have probably posted about or discussed any of the above in past years. As much as they are all noteworthy celebrations to consider, I have something else I would like to shear over this first day of September, 2013. Seeds!

The seed may be considered as that link in the chain of vegetable existence which connects the old, and new plant; were this destroyed, were nature to fail in her operation of perfecting the seed, what a change would the Earth soon exhibit. One year would sweep away the whole tribe of annual plants; beautiful flowers, medicinal herbs, and our most important grains for the sustenance of man and beast would vanish forever. Another year would take from us many of our most useful garden vegetables, and greatly reduce the number of ornamental plants. Year after year the perennials would vanish until the earth would present but one vast scene of vegetable ruin. The ancient pines and venerable oaks, instead of the smiling aspects of ever renovating nature which they now witness, would stand alone in solitary grandeur, the mournful remnants of a once beautiful and fertile world!~Almira H. Lincoln~ Lectures on Botany ©1835

I've been saving seeds for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, my father had a relatively large garden, in our suburban backyard, where he grew all kinds of vegetables. My sister and I were his little workers. Our tasks included weeding, watering, pinching and fertilizing. We were also in charge of seeds. You see, back then we use to save the seeds from one prize vegetable picked from the garden. I distinctly remember those from the tomatoes and peppers drying on the window sill for next year's planting. Of course, being an Italian gardener, he had tomatoes for Sunday's sauce, Christmas' Antipasti and beefsteak tomatoes; the very best tomatoes IMHO for sandwiches and stuffing! As for the peppers, we never knew their botanical names but we knew the difference between the Italian hot peppers and the "regular" peppers:) I don't remember much from those days but I'm sure those childhood memories are instilled in me somewhere:)

I find collecting seeds to be one of the most relaxing times in the garden. It doesn't have to be difficult. If you're like me, you like to stroll through the garden each day to spy the going ons. Who's sprouting? Who faded today? Who today is providing shelter for say...a sleeping bee.

Sometimes, saving seeds is as easy as seeing them. Since this poppy is oh so pretty, it may be easy to bypass the seed pods.

Unless...

After you've collected a few pods, let them dry out on a sheet of newspaper. Sometimes I use paper plates. Other times, I just grab whatever is within arms reach:) After they are dried, I usually put them in small envelopes. Sometimes I label them which is highly recommended. Sometimes, I forget:) Most times I wind up with quite a collection of seeds for next year.

When I first started collecting flower seeds, I had no idea what I was doing. Although I've learned a lot through trial and error, I still get stumped. I mean really, would you know where to begin looking for seeds on this Celosia? I didn't.

I bought my first few "stalks" of cockscomb from an Amish lady at the flea market a few years ago. I think it cost $3.00. I may have shared it with you a while back. Not only did I buy it for it's vibrant red color, I was also intrigued by how well it stood up to being dried. Little did I know when I put it in Marion's bathroom all dressed up in a vase that Marion would have to clean up around it on a daily basis. You see, the seeds were dropping off at the mere touch or breeze:)

Thankfully the stems I hung in the garage stayed as is. Otherwise, I would have been sweeping up tons of seeds off the garage floor. Just think about it, at $2.50 a packet, I could save some money and buy another, uh, fountain?

Remember the Cleomes?

Without a doubt, Spider Flower seeds are the most fun to collect. And easy too. I just take my trusty scissor into the garden and snip away at those long pods that looks like string beans. (wait until they begin to turn brown:)

There is one deterrent to harvesting the seeds from the Spider Flower. The bees. They love them! I usually wait until the middle of the day to go a snipping. I know, you would think that is when the bees would be the busiest. That's true with most flowers but not in my garden. The Spider Flower closes by mid-day and doesn't reopen again until late in the afternoon. I'm sure it isn't a phenomenon only to my garden. I suppose I should do a bit of research but I'm assuming it is just the characteristic of the plant itself. Whatever, it does close and I appreciate it:) In all honesty though, I've worked around these statuesque plants in the morning when the bees are in full nectar mode and I haven't gotten stung. Frankly, they are too busy buzzing about:)

I could go on and on about my seed collecting escapades. Don't worry, I won't:) I suppose the purpose of today's post is to encourage you to take a second look when you are admiring flowers, whether they are in your garden, a friend's garden or even a public garden. As we approach a new season, for some it will soon be Fall and for others Spring, seeds are all around us. They may even be hidden under a cap like those of the Portulaca,

They are waiting for you to discover them, save them, and yes, plant them too. If you're at all hesitant, may I suggest you begin with a member of the Marigold family? Easy, Peasy:)

I hope you have enjoyed today's post. I tried to keep it as simple as possible because collecting seeds can quickly become overwhelming. I also wanted a way of letting you know that you are welcome to any seeds I have available. That's probably the best thing about collecting seeds, sharing them too! The garden is still in full bloom and if any one out there wants some seeds, just let me know. I will gladly send them your way. I don't know if there are any restrictions with sending them through the mail in other countries. If you are aware of any "no sending seed laws", please let me know:) See you all Wednesday when we will get back to the "business" of food celebrations. Louise

Commonplace by Susan Coolidge
"A commonplace life,” we say, and we sigh,
But why should we sigh as we say?
The commonplace sun in the commonplace sky
Makes up the commonplace day;
The moon and the stars are commonplace things,
And the flower that blooms, and the bird that sings,
But dark were the world, and sad our lot,
If the flowers failed, and the sun shone not;
And God, who studies each separate soul,
Out of commonplace lives makes His beautiful whole.