Saving seeds is the completion and the beginning of the circle of life in my garden. A seed is one of nature’s great miracles – everything necessary to grow a plant is held within its tiny walls.
I started zinnias and marigolds from seeds early last spring, nurtured them from young seedlings to small plants, transplanted them into larger pots, and then tended to them until the danger of frost had passed and they were planted in the garden.
They bloomed all summer – the marigolds brightening the small beds on either side of the driveway and the zinnias coloring two different perennial borders in just about every shade of the rainbow.
So a couple days ago, I gathered some seed heads and harvested seeds to begin the circle again. Here’s how I did it.
I cut some seed heads of marigolds. They were already very dry in the garden. (If they hadn’t been dry, they would have spent about a week on the kitchen counter.)
I pulled the tops off and the seeds spilled out.
Next, I selected a few seed heads from zinnias.
The seeds, held at the bases of dried petals, pulled away from seed heads easily.
After the seeds were completely dry, I put them into envelopes, noting the names and dates seeds were collected. Stored in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container, they will wait until it’s time to start them inside early next spring.
Note: If you are collecting seeds in your garden, remember seeds produced by hybrid plants will not be true to type. (They will not grow into plants that look just like their parents.) On seed packets, hybrid annuals are indicated by F1 Hybrid on the labels.
Instead save seeds from old-fashioned varieties, including heirloom and open-pollinated types. These seeds often grow into plants that are similar to their parents. Some marigold varieties to check out include Crackerjack, Lemon Gem, Snowball and Sunset Giants. Examples of heirloom or open-pollinated zinnias are Candy Cane, California Giant, Cut & Come Again, Lilliput and State Fair Mix.
Both marigolds and zinnias are easy annuals to get started on seed saving. If you don’t already save seeds, give it a try this fall. Garden with me!