How to Save & Sow Your Own Seeds
I'm telling you this as fair warning, once you start it is almost impossible to stop collecting and inevitably sowing seeds. It can become obsessive and over time an ingrained relfex you can no longer control.
I collect seeds for everything, from wildflowers and garden herbs to fruit and vegetables. For this Blog, I am going to mainly look at saving and growing vegetable seeds but the principles are the same generally for collecting flower seeds (with less mess, preperation and much more patience and observation required).
If collecting from your own growth with something like peas or beans you will have to allow the seeds to dry and store them until ready for them.
Most seeds are best to dry on paper or cardboard in a cool, airy, dry place. They generally prefer the dark but some light doesn't seem to do much damage, Perhaps some varieties are more sensitive than others so as your obsession grows so can you curiosity and experimentation if your are moved that way.
Every seed is different and every plant likes different conditions, You will have to research when is best to sow your seeds and what method might work best. There is a wealth of information available online but make sure you consider your location and it's weather when making sowing decisions. Asking local growers might give you more successful advice than the internet.
At the Community Garden we like to try sucessional sowing and using different methods to ensure the most success. At home I try to make an educated guess based on my previous experince with each variety.
Germinating your seeds means allowing them to begin taking root before planting them out or potting them. This process is the most time consuming but has the highest success rate and you do not waste materials or resources on an unsucessful grow.
Simply put your seed between two layers of paper towel, loo roll or a thin muslin type cloth or fabric. Put it in a tin a and keep wet. Keep the lid on unless checking progress and wait for the first tap root to emerge.
This process can take a few days up to a week. Once your root has began to grow you can then begin the usual process to sow your seed. You have to be very careful not to damage the delicate root when planting though.
When sowing seeds into pots you require the most resources and materials and inital time input, However you do tend to have more success with the results as you can move the plants to more suitable environments as the weather suits and they have all the nutrients and space each seed needs. Time will be required to prepare pots and to plant out but this is the most used method by the gardeners I chat with,
A good seed compost or soft mix of compost, soil and sand is best for seed sowing, You can use anything to sow seeds in, If you have pots and trays use them. If not empty loo rolls work, egg boxes, plastic trays from fruit, yoghurt pots, all sorts of materials can be used to start your seedlings. I wouldn't go any bigger than a fist sized container for the potting method.
Put the soil in the pot, dampen and sow your seeds as it prefers. Different seeds like different depths and conditons. This part you will have to research for your choice of seeds.
Keep a record of what you do so you can refer back and know exactly when and how things were done.
You will need a space that is convenient to get to, as your nurture your seeds. They will need light and water daily. Generally they prefer to be warm, not too hot or not too cold. This is where your potting method helps as you can move your babies to spaces they may prefer.
A usual method is to pop them outside just before they are ready to be planted out to "harden off". This will stop them from being too shocked when they are moved to their final home. You'll know they are ready because they will look big and healthy and they will fill their pots.
Once they are all in postion they will need to be gentle removed from their pots and dig them in the soil. At our Community Garden we use no dig methods as much as possible which means we disturb the soil as little as possible. We simply make a strong slice with a hand trowel, lever it back and put the plant in the gap before pressing down,
Most gardeners dig a trench, place the plant and press in around the base, We seem to have more success with our no dig methods but you can choose this technique for yourself.
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