Posted on July 3, 2019 at 6:00 am
Ah, summer. Here you are again, bringing all that sunshine and heat and gardening goodness with you.
For most of us gardeners, our seasonal plants have not only been selected by now, but they’re planted and fairly well established in our gardens. Many perennials are blooming, or nearly so.
The time has come to figure out what seeds to save for next spring!
Save seeds? you ask. Why, yes, of course!
Now is a great time to think about which plants you’re going to eat the tasty fruits and veggies from and which you’d like to collect seeds from instead.
The Library District currently has three seed libraries at Cheney, Fairfield, and Otis Orchards Libraries. And starting in the spring of 2020 we will have two more; we’re adding seed libraries at North Spokane and Spokane Valley Libraries.
We would love to share your saved seeds with our communities. You can bring in your heirloom seeds to any of our seed libraries in a plastic zipped bag or a paper bag. Your bags should be labeled with the type of seeds inside and the year gathered. Library staff will separate them into special seed envelopes before adding them to the seed library drawers for others to take home and plant! Or you can ask staff to show you how to sort them into our special seed envelopes, if you’d like to take on that task!
Last year, I shared three beginner-level seed saving videos for sunflowers, onions, and kale. If you’re looking for help on how to save those seeds, check it out.
And now I offer three more seed saving videos to help even the most reluctant seed saver feel successful: lovage (a member of the parsley family), coriander (the seeds and the entire plant that produces cilantro leaves), and snap peas (a cross between snow peas and garden peas).
Lovage is a fun and easy herbaceous plant to grow. I planted mine two years ago and have harvested more celery-scented leaves than I will ever know what to do with!
This year, my plant has grown well over 8-feet tall and has started blossoming already.
I plan to wait until the blossoms turn to seeds and then for the seed heads to dry out to harvest them. In several weeks, I will cut the stalk a few inches below the seed heads, and place the seed heads inside a paper bag in a cool, dry place (probably my garage or basement).
The seed heads can be stored that way until I plant them next spring.
Or, approximately 2–3 weeks after I’ve cut them from the stalks, I can fold the opening of the paper bag over several times, and shake the bag as vigorously as I can. This will loosen the seeds from the seed heads and will make it easier to collect them.
The seeds can be stored in paper bags (be sure to protect from rodents and insects as well!) in a cool, dry location until time to replant in the spring.
I have a hard time saving snap pea seeds, for the sole reason that I would prefer to enjoy the sweet flavor of these peas in the late spring, rather than wait around for them to dry.
But as it gets hotter, you’ll see your uneaten snap peas beginning to dry out and turn brown. You won’t want to eat those snap peas. Instead, leave them be until they are fully dry. The stems and leaves will also begin to dry.
Once they are fully dry, you can easily collect the pods from the stems and save them in a paper bag.
The seeds can stay in their pods in the paper bag until you’re ready to plant them next year when, ideally, you’ll want to crack open the dry pods and pop the peas loose. The peas can be saved in paper bags in a cool, dry location.
Coriander is a spice used in cooking and is the seed that comes from the cilantro plant.
At my house, cilantro does the best indoors on the windowsill by the kitchen sink. The plant still receives plenty of sunshine, but it also gets watered more frequently than it would out in my garden. Another benefit is that when I need cilantro for my dinner, it’s right at hand.
The cilantro plant will bolt when the weather grows hotter, as it is doing now. For those new to gardening let’s talk about what bolting means in gardening terms (if you pictured a plant running away, know that you’re not alone). When a plant bolts, its growth quickly changes from being mostly leaves to being mostly flowers and seeds.
Once this begins to happen, the leaves will not be as flavorful for eating. So when you see this occurring, it’s best to let the plant blossom and go to seed rather than try to stop the bolting by cutting back the stems.
Clip the stems low on the plant, near the ground. Gently place the whole stalks into a large paper bag and let them dry for another week or two. Once the seeds are fully dry, it is easy to shake the paper bag to loosen then from the stalks.
And as you want to do with all seeds, save them in paper bags in a cool dry location, safe from rodents and insects.
If you’d like to learn more about seed saving, there are local and not-so-local excellent resources for all your seed saving questions.
Not-so-locally, the seed savers exchange has tons of helpful information about getting started with gardening and saving seeds on their website.
I urge you to visit your local library to pursue the selection of seed saving books and eBooks. If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, ask library staff for some help. You may just find a fellow gardener!
And if you’re hands-on like me, I invite you to attend one of the seed saving programs that we’re offering later this summer at our three seed libraries.