To some gardeners, this is one of their favourite times of year. After a long season of caring for their plants and veg, it’s time to start gathering seed!
The process of collecting seed is a very easy one. Instead of deadheading every single flower, let some go to seed (i.e. turn brown) and wait until a dry, windless and sunny day. The pods that are ready to pick will be dry and about to burst; with most you will hear them rattle. Cut off the entire seed head and turn it upside down into a paper bag. You might need to leave them in the bag until the pod is totally dry and open; if you have the space, you can let them dry spread out on a plate, for example. Once you’re ready to store them, tip the pods onto a flat surface and pick out the seeds ensuring you don’t have any plant bits.
Pop the seeds into an envelope, write the name and date of collection and store in a cool dry place. Generally, if seeds are kept in good conditions, they can be stored for anything between 1 and 4 years depending if they’re an annual or a perennial. For veg, it’s best to research exactly what you are storing, as beans can last between 3 and 5 years, for example.
It is likely you will end up with masses of seeds. Seed swaps tend to take place in February, and they are a great way to build community spirit and stock up on varieties you might like to try next year. These seeds are also likely to do well as they have grown and thrived in your local area, which means that they like the climate conditions and soil particular to your locality.