Add to My MSN

Seed Saving Can Be Fun and Easy

7/14/2014 8:19:00 AM

Tags: Seeds, Seed Saving, Sunflowers, Burros, Pollinators, Renee-Lucie Benoit

Renee-Lucie BenoitEver since I became a member of Seed Savers Exchange out of Decorah, Iowa, I have toyed with the idea of actually saving some of the seed from the plants I’ve grown. Before I came out here to the ranch and I was still living in the city, I just couldn’t carve out time to really study the topic. It seemed beyond me. What should I harvest? How long did I need to wait? Which plant of a particular kind should I pick from?

This year I finally got a lot of sunflowers to grow, among other things. We built a really good fence around the plot so the feral burros couldn’t eat them. Last year I planted them in front of our house because they were so cheery and beautiful. I loved to drive up with them to greet me. I mistakenly thought we could coast by and not have the burros notice that they were there and for the longest time this seemed to be true. Then one day I walked out the front door and stopped cold in my tracks. Nary a sunflower was left. Sigh. Hey, as one of my old woman friends said they just doin’ what come natural.

burros

Burros cleaning up after the cows this past winter.

OK, I get it but what about me? Ain’t I doin’ what come natural and does that entail letting the burros mow everything down? The fence wasn’t that easy to build. We have what I call unnaturally hard soil in our geographical area and pounding the T-posts took weeks even in winter. But by late winter the fence was up and I was all ready to have a bountiful harvest without it all going bye-bye.

sunflowers

Pollinators happy as they can be to find such a meal.

I’m thrilled to say I have skyscraper sunflowers of many types and colors. Then I noticed that some of the heads were drying up and getting crunchy. We had plenty of pollinators from early spring and even as I write they’re still out there doing their job in mid-July. I just looked at those dried heads and said to myself Seed Saving! What the hay!

Sunflowers are the easiest of seeds to save because they show you when they are ready. Just take the dried-up brown heads and pop the seeds out. It’s as easy as pie.

Step One: Cut off the dried head. It will be crunchy and brittle. Pick the plants that had the most beautiful flowers or whatever quality you enjoyed when they were blooming. That way you’ll have the best chance of having those same attributes when you plant them again.

heads

Step Two: Rub off the flower stamens. You might want to put on your gloves at this point. The heads can be tough on hands.

chaff

Step Three: Pop or rub out the seeds unto a clean surface.

seeds

Step Four: Pick out as much “chaff” as you can. Just neater that way.

Step Five: pour them in a clean dry jar. You can see I wasn’t that careful about the chaff and that’s OK because the big seeds are easy to recover. Puncture a few aeration holes in the lid to keep any residual moisture from collecting and store in a cool dry place until you’re ready to plant.

jar

Now I can hardly wait to try some other plants next year or maybe even later in the season. Maybe cucumbers. Maybe tomatoes. Happy seed saving!



Related Content

Seed Saving: How to Save Squash Seeds

The basics of seed saving include hand pollination, drying and storing. Learn how to save squash see...

It's Raining, It's Pouring, Hurrah, Hurrah

Sometimes before the rain, we live through those dry days. Rain brings the hope of the greening of t...

Roasted Pumpkin Soup Recipe

This Pumpkin Soup Recipe is made even more spectacular by serving in its own shell.

Starts Preparing for Spring Garden in Winter

Winter is the perfect time to start preparing for the spring garden.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
 

Want to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $19.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $19.95 for a one year subscription!