I don’t know about you, but I have been having a heck of a time getting seeds to germinate outdoors this summer. Many of my spring crops finished their time in the garden much sooner than usual and so I am filling holes with seeds when the sun is scorching and water is unreliable. Seeds germinate best in evenly moist soils, in cooler temperatures, when their thread like stems won’t get burned to a crisp on their first day out of the ground. That’s why starting seeds indoors, in controlled conditions, can greatly improve the chance of your seedlings surviving.
If I had to pay for all of my seeds, I might be reluctant to keep planting round after round of them in the summer soil, watching my money disappear underground. Fortunately, though, I have been saving the seeds of many plants over the last few seasons and so am operating out of abundance! My two reliable gap fillers, bush beans and calendula, are also plants that make copious amounts of seeds that are really easy to save. Here is how:
- let the seeds fully develop on the plant and dry out,
- clip off and stick in a container once totally dry,
- plant again later.
Bush beans have the added bonus that whatever seeds you don’t want to save for planting, you can cook up as dry beans. Calendulas grow in just about any weather (hard freezes excepting), have flowers that can be eaten or used for body care products, and have the coolest looking seeds around.
If you would like to learn how to save your own seeds (and save lots of money and genetic diversity in the process), you should check out the Civic Garden Center’s Seed Saving Class on Monday, August 13 from 6-8 pm. And then this fall or winter you can share your seed saving knowledge and seeds at the CGC’s annual Seed Swap.
Happy Seed Saving!
– Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Green Learning Station Program Manager