A small suburban garden, 100 metres (ok yards) from the sea. Home to cat, lots of soil critters (good and bad cowboys!) and the Head Gardener, who wants to record of some of the little things that mean a lot as a way of expressing gratitude. When things don't move quickly enough in the garden, Páraig (pronounced Paw-rig) heads off along the byways of SE Ireland on his bike "Gilhaney".
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Alyssum: Easy Seed Saving
I love growing from seed. So do many people. Browsing the garden centre, supermarket or catalogues for brightly-coloured seed packets is good fun, and even greater fun when the seeds actually germinate and grow fully.
This week, following some good advice on Garden Tags (my mobile app for updating my garden and sharing stories with other keen growers), I started the process of saving seeds from plants already in place. I started with Alyssum "Golden Ball" and it was thrilling. I had noticed that the seedheads were just ready. Flowering had finished about three weeks ago, and the beautiful brown seeds would surely scatter in the wind within a short while. They looked very much like linseed that I put on my Flahavan's porridge for breakfast.
What you need:
small container or envelope
These seeds are so easy to save. I cut large clumps from the plant, and in the process gave it a good "haircut". This in itself is necessary to prepare the plant for winter and better flowering next year. I held the clumps upside-down over a plastic bucket, and shook them vigorously. Lo and begold, the seeds fell and with them only a little chaff. Alternatively, it works well if you put them into a lettuce leaf "dryer", and twist for 30 seconds. The seeds will fall through the grill, but the rest will not. After about ten minutes sifting out, I was left with only good ripe seed. I did need to remove some seeds that were not fully ripe, but the task was easy as most were just right. I have stored them in a small sealed plastic container, and will be planting them after Christmas in the propagator.
This was used for screws & nails; now it's for seeds
By my reckoning I've got about 200 seeds from one plant. I'll likely grow them on and will only be able to keep five or ten in my small garden. What will I do with the rest? I'm a member of a seed-swap group, so I'll be on the look out for members who have seeds that I'd like to get. It's a win-win situation.
I'd be happy to share these seeds in return for a chicken or even a few heads of broccoli. Better still, I'd opt for a nice plant (seeds or cuttings) from someone's garden Or, I'd be happy to grow a dozen for someone who would appreciate them. Cost will be just what it costs me for a bit of compost and pots, labels & tlc. No online ordering system in place, coz the banks would pluck most of the profits, so anyone who wants these plants, just get in touch. For me the fun is in the challenge of growing seeds. I'm not looking to be rich in the process. Not rich in money, but definitely rich in therapeutic satisfaction.
What else can be saved from seed now? Lots of plants really. I'm trying wallflower, aubretia, marigold and sweet pea. Happy seed-saving if you decide to try. And if you're an ultra-keen gardener do take a look at the Garden Tags app.