The crisp edge of Fall is creeping into the gardens of Sunrise Springs. While they are still filled with gorgeous greens and cheerful flowers, it’s hard to miss the shift in the air. Autumn brings with it an end to the bountiful harvests of summer, but it also brings a great opportunity to prepare for next season by saving seeds.
Seed catalogs are filled with beautiful pictures of fun plants to grow. But what better seed catalog exists than your own garden? After a beautiful growing season, you are now very familiar with which plant varieties do the best in your locale. The next step is to allow your plants to finish off the season by “going to seed.”
When a plant goes to seed, it is allowed to fully mature. In the case of plants like squash and melons, this often means allowing it to mature past the point you might otherwise harvest it to eat. There are many varieties of plants that can have their seed collected. Try a few from the list below:
Squash, Melons, & Peppers: These are some of the easiest fruits and vegetables to save seeds from. By allowing them to mature fully, you can easily scoop the seeds out and then spread them across a screen or paper towel to fully dry. The extra pulp can be removed once the drying process is completed.
Beans & Peas: Allow the pods of beans and seeds to dry on the vine. They should be harvested when you are able to hear the beans rattle in the pods when shaken. Spread them on a screen in a well-ventilated area for a few days more to ensure they are fully dry.
Garlic: Each head of garlic is composed of small cloves. These small cloves can be dried out slowly in a well-ventilated room. Each clove can be planted to grow a whole new head of garlic. Don’t forget, garlic does best when planted in Autumn!
Flowers: Flowers are a delightfully easy seed to save. After the flower has bloomed allow the flower head to remain on the plant. Doing so gives the seeds enough time to fully mature. Just don’t leave the seed pods on the plant for too long! Many flowers will happily disperse their seeds on the ground alongside them if given enough opportunity.
With all seeds, it is important to make sure that they are stored in a cool dry place. This will help prevent any issues with mold and mildew. Just don’t forget to label them!
Please note that it is not worth saving seeds from hybrid varieties. The seeds from these plants will often be sterile or produce plants that will not resemble the parent plant.
Danielle Simmons, Horticulture and Animal Interactions
Inspired by her childhood experience of play in the forests of upstate New York, Danielle has devoted her career to connecting human wellness with a deeper engagement to the natural world. Danielle planted and manages the greenhouse and the garden beds at Sunrise. She enjoys teaching guests the many uses of herbs, from first aid to making herbal teas and salves. When she is not being inspired by the big trees and abundant water at Sunrise, she is enjoying time with her family and their organic garden, which they tend on their homestead south of Santa Fe.