Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, master gardener Jenny Addie has amassed quite a collection of plant seeds from her garden - nearly 1 million packets so far.
"I just love collecting seeds from wildflowers," Addie said.
Oriental and California poppies are two of her favorites.
The process of collecting, drying and storing seeds is one of Addie's favorite gardening activities.
But collecting seeds can be much more than a hobby.
According to horticulturist Jane Waldrop, it's one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to grow a garden.
"Seeds are easy to collect, and they give you a great start for next year's garden," she said.
In Waldrop's garden, she has successfully collected seeds from four o'clocks, zinnias and medallion flowers.
First, you've got to know what you're looking for.
"With a zinnia, you just cut off the head of the flower and let it dry. Then, cut off all the petals, and the seeds are attached to the petal," Waldrop said.
"The medallion flower, which makes into a short bush and is covered with daisy flowers all summer, has a cluster of seeds under the daisy petal," she added.
Gathering seeds at the right time of day and at the proper point of development is also important.
"It's best to collect them early in the morning, just as the dew is drying," Addie said. "Get them just as they ripen."
Then, the seeds must be dried. Seeds take about one week to thoroughly dry before they can be stored long-term.
For storage containers, anything from an envelope to a plastic film container will work. "Just be sure to store them with silica gel," Addie said. "This helps to keep them viable."
Store seeds in a cool, dry place where the temperature remains relatively cool.
While seeds can be collected from nearly any plant, Addie said it is best to stick with non-hybrid varieties.
"If you use those seeds, you'll get a mixed crop," she said. "Since the hybrid seed won't grow something true to form, they're really not worthwhile to collect."
To help ensure that the seeds will actually sprout, remember, "don't put down a pre-emergent or they won't come up," Waldrop said.
"Collect your seeds now," Waldrop said, and you're well on your way to a great planting season.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.