Saving Seeds – October, 2013

Beginning this month, we will be highlighting a seasonally relevant gardening issue in every Bring Back the Pollinators newsletter. This month, we encourage you to think about seed saving.

By late October, in much of the country wildflowers are done blooming and are dying back to the ground. In many cases, the standing dried flowers are still filled with seed that can be harvested and spread around other areas, or shared with friends. If you are interested in saving wildflower seed:

  • 1. Clip dead flowers and allow them to fully dry inside a paper bag — the seeds will be easier to shake free from the flower when it’s completely dry.
  • 2. For seed heads that are difficult to break apart, like purple coneflower, they can often be threshed by pulsing them a few times in an old kitchen blender.
  • 3. Many types of seed can be separated from the chaff by using a few pieces of metal screen with different mesh sizes.
  • 4. If you can, leave some seed heads standing in your garden over the winter for birds and other wildlife.

Remember that if you are in a cold climate you can plant most perennial wildflower seed in the fall (but save the annuals for spring). Exposure to cold weather and winter precipitation enhances germination of many perennial species. If you are in a warm area, go ahead and plant your annuals in the fall.

Good luck with seed harvesting — and watch this space for more monthly gardening ideas.

To read previous months’ tips, please click here.