Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seeds: Next Year's Garden

The leaves have almost all fallen, and I have been busy planting bulbs, cleaning up the garden, and collecting seeds to save for next year. 

There could be hundreds of seeds in this rudbeckia seed head.
For many plants in the garden I am just letting nature take its course and letting them self-sow.  I wonder what plants will spring up where next year?

Tiny violet seeds.
I marvel at the ways nature has adapted to spread seeds.  Some seeds such as dandelions and Joe Pye Weed ride the wind on their little fluffy parasols.  Impatiens have exploding seed pods that will fling the seeds several feet away.  The hairy pods of Tick Trefoil, a wildflower/weed that occasionally graces my garden, will latch onto any animal or garden glove that brushes against it.

The seeds of 'Little Joe' Joe Pye Weed, Impatiens, and Tick Trefoil
There are also, of course, the seeds that travel long distances in the bellies of fruit-eating birds and then come out the other end.  I shall spare you pictures of that one.

Some seeds in my garden I chose to collect and save to plant again next year, especially those of annuals.  My easiest seeds to gather were those of the cheerful yellow Cosmos sulphureus.  These Cosmos were ones I had grown from seed that I had saved the previous year.  And the cycle continues.

Seeds of Cosmos sulphureus
For seeds that grow on seed heads, like my orange Zinnias, I cut the seed heads off once they turned totally brown.  

I then pulled the dried seed heads apart, separated the seeds from the chaff, and stored them in a cool, dry, dark place for next year. 

Each plant produces so many seeds that there is more than enough to store and share with friends and neighbors.

Even after harvesting the seeds that I want, there are many seed heads left.  In the backyard I leave them on the plant for the birds, and in the front I cut them off during my tidying up for the winter and set them out for the birds to enjoy.

Next year's garden shall be composed partially from the seeds that I have saved this year.  Plants for free?  It doesn't get better than that!


  1. It's true, there is nothing better than saving seeds (or cuttings) from plants for next year. Sometimes I'm orderly and label everything, but last year I just put them in a large bag and spread them around any areas I didn't have a plan for.

  2. Wysiew kwiatów z własnych nasion to przyjemność i z pewnością oszczędność. Nasiona wysiewają się też same i nie zawsze w miejscu, w którym by się chciało i jest kłopot. Trzeba przesadzić w odpowiednie miejsce, a można też podarować sąsiadowi. Pozdrawiam

  3. I love your images! You are so good to collect all your seeds. I usually leaving them for the birds or let nature do its thing. Maybe next year I will remember to collect them...such a nice thing to share with gardening friends!

  4. I love seeing seed heads, and I love the way you worded it: next year's garden. Such a message of hope and renewal.

  5. When you become involved in collecting seed for next year and starting your own cuttings, that's when you move up into a new level of gardening. Everything in your garden takes on so much more meaning when you are the one responsible for its beautiful existence.

  6. Wonderful post. Will the impatiens come up from seed for you next spring? I always wondered if they would just sprout where they landed in a warmer climate, but up here it is much too cold. There is nothing I enjoy more than those exploding seed pods, little children visiting the garden get such a thrill from them, too.

    I don't collect the seed from my zinnias or cosmos, though I know I could. The problem is, for me, they haven't come back true to their original colors. Since I usually plant them in that fussy, formal pattern, I just start out with new seed every year so I can be relatively sure they are the color I want when they bloom. I start all my annuals from seed every year, and it can be expensive, so your seed-saving is the best idea.

    The one flower that does run rampant around here and unchecked is the rudbeckias. They come up all over the place and I welcome their cheery faces wherever they decide to sprout.

    Coneflowers also reseed, if the birds don't get to them first, which is really a miracle, considering the snow and ice covers them for months on end. I do love to see the birds clinging to the stems in the winter, having a feast.

  7. I like your post title. So true about the free plants, I always let them seed themselves, it adds some surprise in the garden, but some plants push out others that way. The Rudbeckia is a real garden hog. I used to have cosmos, but no more. Time for a replant I think.

  8. How wonderful! As you say ... The cycle continues! Thanks for joining in the meme!

  9. You have saved some great seeds.I always save impatiens seeds every fall but the deers ate mine off before I got any this year. I think I have some left over from the year before so hopefully they will still be good when the time comes to start them.
    I bet Christmas is an exciting one around your home with the little ones. LOL! They make it so fun.
    If I do not get back for a visit I want to wish you and yours a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

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