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Collecting and saving seeds
In the current climate of price rises and frozen salaries we’re all looking for ways to save money. Fortunately, many garden plants help us to cut costs by producing new seed for free. All we have to do is spot the opportunities, then collect and save seed for use next year.
Deadheading spent blooms makes plants look tidier and promotes further flowering, but I allow several of my favourite flowers to form seeds. Some are just left to ripen and fall onto surrounding soil to germinate there. Others are collected and sown in pots in a more organised manner. Among the seeds I’ve saved this year are foxglove, hellebore, columbine, scabious, Jacob’s ladder, snapdragon and calendula.
Around my plot I leave lettuce, mizuna, watercress, broad beans and climbing beans to flower and set seed. Several herbs readily do this too, like coriander and parsley. As the picture (top left) shows, flowering coriander attracts many beneficial insects, like hoverflies, which feed on its pollen.
In fact coriander often bolts very quickly during hot weather, although the variety called ‘Leisure’ is worth growing as it’s slower to bolt, providing more leafy pickings for longer. If your coriander does flower, you can use the crushed seeds in Indian cookery, but save some for sowing next year’s coriander crop. Allow the seeds to ripen fully on the plant before harvesting.
In the greenhouse I save seed from chillies, tomatoes and sweet peppers. The rule of thumb here is not to save seed from F1 hybrid varieties, as their progeny will not grow ‘true’. You can still try, but there’s no guarantee of the quality of the crop. There’s more information on saving seed in Sue Stickland’s article in the September 2011 issue of Gardeners’ World Magazine.
So which seeds are you saving?
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