Mom wants kids to help carry on seed-saving tradition
Question: When I was a kid, my mom and the neighbor ladies would gather seeds from marigolds and other plants. They spent the afternoon doing something to them; then, in the spring, they replanted them with great success. I want to do that with my daughters. What do I need to do?
Answer: If you know of a plant that you want to save, there are a few things to do. First, wait until the seeds are mature, and pick only healthy-looking seed heads or fruit.
In the fall, almost all seeds are ready to be saved if they are still on the plant. Earlier in the season, you might want to tie a paper bag or a nylon stocking over the end of the plant to collect the seeds before they fall off or blow away.
Next, clean as much chaff off the seeds as possible. This is what your mom and friends were doing all afternoon. Chaff hides insects and their eggs. It also might be moist, which will encourage fungal disease or cause the seeds to rot during storage.
If you collected berries or other fruits, like tomatoes or cucumbers, you will need to get the seeds out of the “gooey stuff ” (a technical term used by botanists) before letting the seeds dry out.
Save and store only clean, dried seeds. Place them in a cool, dry location in paper bags, not plastic. Plastic bags retain too much moisture, which helps fungal diseases grow.
Label the bags! You will forget what seed is in what bag, and other people might throw them away if they are not labeled. The label needs to state the kind of seed, with as much detail for the name as you know.
The label also needs to list the location and date they were gathered. Knowing how old the seeds are will be useful in the future. Seeds slowly grow while stored, and they eventually die if not planted. Some seeds can last for many years, while others should be planted the following spring.
Most seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location. The vegetable drawer of your refrigerator is a good place for them. The paper bags of seeds can be stored in airtight containers in the drawer.
Another storage technique (that is more organized) is to use one of the three sizes of Seed Keepers found on seedkeeper company.com.
File your seed packs behind A-Z dividers that keep the packs upright, so thydon’t spill.
Other seed-saving products on the website include glassine envelopes and labels. Glassine is a very thin, smooth paper that is air- and waterresistant.
— courtesy Creators.com