Seed Saving 101

My vegetables are a bit hit and miss this year. Not all of these experiments are paying off. And it turns out that I am really not disciplined enough. Need to water plants more often, more regularly and just more. Who knew? Sadly the weeds see no such problems and are thriving. If they were pretty, I wouldn’t mind. But they aren’t. And they are sore. Nettles and thistles mostly. Little Paddler refers to the thistles as “Ow pillows” and is decidedly unimpressed if out and about without her wellies.

just before the display collapsed on itself with the weight of blooms (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
just before the display collapsed on itself with the weight of blooms
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

What is looking great though are my lupins. They have put on a huge display this year. And the bumblebees are loving it. The purples are a really deep royal purple and make a great contrast with the stark white clump. But it’s the pinks that have won me over this year; all candy floss coloured with white flag at the stem. It may be Chatelaine variety but I’m not sure (check me out knowing fancy terms!). And I am not usually a pink loving kinda gal. But they all look great in a vase on the table.

Last year I saved lupin seeds. I was so proud of myself. They even grew. That made me even prouder. I gave lots away as presents to friends. They appear more impressed than they really should be. I kept one for myself to add to my collection for now. But what did I keep? What did I even grow? “Russells royal purples” if I had to hazard a guess. But who knows. It’s a lucky dip. I got as far as remembering the seeds were lupins. Labelling and organising in general don’t seem to be a real strong point with me. Must work on that.

the new seed pods are furry and plump (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
the new seed pods are furry and plump
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

I cut the full stem of the flowers once the seed pods had emerged and dried up. The pods start off furry and plump and gradually get all lumpy and bumpy around the seeds. The eventually turn gnarled and twisted. That’s when you want to cut them. These then go in to a paper bag – stems up to handle, seed heads down in base of bag. I tie them up and hang them in the hot press. I imagine anywhere warm with good air circulation would do well. Some people put another bag over the top of this to keep dust off of the seed heads. That’s too much effort for me. Then forget about them for a few months.

baby lupins (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
baby lupins
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Eventually you should be able to shake the seed heads to loosen any remaining seeds that haven’t popped out themselves. I sowed them in March under cover with about half an inch of soil covering them. Once the true leaves started to appear, I thinned them out in to individual modules or pots.

must label must label must label (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
must label must label must label
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

There are rumours of another flower bed later this year. I am thinking real cottage garden beds type look and feel. So lupins will probably do quite well in it – if it ever materialises. I’ll need to save more seed. And label it this time.

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