ON THE COVER Susie’s Gar­den

Our thrifty ex­pert loves har­vest­ing seeds – here are her tips on the best ways to col­lect from dif­fer­ent flower species

My Weekly - - Contents -

For the last few weeks I have been sav­ing seed, some­thing I find im­mensely sat­is­fy­ing. Hold­ing a palm­ful of seeds from a favourite va­ri­ety, I’m aware of the po­ten­tial for all those new plants.

I hate see­ing any­thing go­ing to waste, but there are lots of ways you can max­imise what your gar­den pro­duces. You can use seed to cre­ate new plants for your­self or for a char­ity stall or take part in a seed swap; there’s an oc­ca­sional one at our lo­cal mar­ket, and de­tails on how to set one up are on the Eden Project web­site.

You need to col­lect seed when it’s dry, so avoid dewy morn­ings or it may go mouldy. Al­ways store it in pa­per bags or old en­velopes, never in plas­tic which would hold in any resid­ual mois­ture. And don’t for­get to la­bel and date it. With some plants it’s easy to shake the dry seeds out of the old flower head: for ex­am­ple, aqui­le­gia, pop­pies, tulips, di­anthus or lupins.

With oth­ers you can cut the whole spike and lay it out on a green­house bench, airy win­dowsill or in an air­ing cup­board be­fore ex­tract­ing them.

For very long seed­heads such as fox­gloves, lay a dou­ble sheet of news­pa­per in a wheel­bar­row, shake the heads into that and then use the fold to guide the seeds into a pa­per bag. You may need to sort them from the chaff, the ma­te­rial that en­closed it, which can har­bour moulds or pests.

Put every­thing in an open box and gen­tly blow across to push the fine rub­bish away while leav­ing the heav­ier seeds be­hind.

Many grasses pro­duce seed in abun­dance. As well as col­lect­ing their seed, I look out for seedlings in my gar­den of pam­pas grass, or smaller va­ri­eties such as Mex­i­can feather grass (Stipa tenuis­sima) or pheas­ant’s tail grass (Aman­thele lessoiana) which I can then pot up.

Al­ter­na­tively, I gather their del­i­cate flower heads just be­fore they are fully ripe and ripen them in pa­per bags in­doors be­fore sow­ing in spring.

So, save money and get a thrill from pro­duc­ing new plants from the tini­est of be­gin­nings.

A life­long and pas­sion­ate gar­dener, Susie White has a free flow­ing plant­ing style which owes much to herbs, wild­flow­ers, child­hood plants and un­usual peren­ni­als.

Species tulip



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