Have you ever gone into the garden to collect some special seeds only to find that they are all gone? The neat trick in this post will ensure that you never lose seeds again. You can even go on vacation while they are ripening and still collect them when you get home.
Collecting Problem Seeds
There are a number of seeds that are difficult to collect in the garden.
Explosive Seed Pods
Some plants like the gas plant (Dictamnus albus) have exploding seed pods. When the seed is ripe, the pod explodes sending seed all over the garden. If you are not there at the right time you’ll miss these seeds.
A number of North American shade plants produce seed that have an elaiosome attached to the seed. This whitish attachment is rich in protein and a favorite snack of insects like ants. If you don’t collect the seed early, you won’t get any.
Seeds Released Early
Plants like hepatica release their seed in the green stage long before it looks ripe. If you wait for ripe seed it will all be gone by the time you get to the garden. Timing can be critical for these seeds since many need to be moist packed to maintain viability.
Organza bags solve all of the above mentioned problems and they even make up for the poor memory of us older gardeners who forget to look at seed pods daily.
Organza bags are small, gauze-like bags that have a drawstring at one end. You can get them online and at some dollar stores.
Simply slip them over the developing seed pod and pull the draw string tight. The bags let light in and excess moisture out so that seeds can complete their development cycle normally. If seed pods are close together you can stick several into one organza bag.
As seeds are released they simply fall to the bottom of the bag. Don’t worry if the draw strings are at the bottom, as in the first picture, they are tight enough to catch most seed.
There is no rush to collect seed. They will mature in the bag and the bag prevents insects and small animals from getting to them. You can now harvest seed at your leisure.
To collect the seed, simply cut off the flower stem below the bag. You can leave the seeds in the bag to dry further, or you can move them to a paper bag/envelope and store them permanently. I like to make my own seed storage envelopes as described in this video.
Reuse the Organza Bags
Once you have taken out the seeds, clean the bags by shaking out any remaining plant material and store them for next year. You can reuse them for many years.
Here is a video that shows you how to cleaning seed from fruits.
More information about germinating seed.