You may have been given a special packet of seeds, found some at a garden store or shop or even have gathered seeds from your own plants and flowers, but how do you look after them to make sure that you can use them over and over again.
Growing from seed is a wonderful and very cost effective way of creating healthy plants for the season, whether you are cultivating vegetables, cut flowers or a specialist plant that may take years to grow. Follow my simple steps to keep your special seeds stored safely so that when you are ready to plant them they will work perfectly for you.
BUYING SEEDS FROM A SHOP / GARDEN CENTRE
The first thing to do when looking at all the wonderful seeds is not to be overwhelmed. When you walk into a garden centre they often have rows and rows of seeds and from different suppliers. On closer inspection you can see that in some cases they actually have the same seeds but from different companies and sometimes they can be different varieties.
It helps to do a little bit of research before you purchase your seeds, especially if you wish to store them for a while.
Look on the back of the packet for both the sowing schedule – this is normally at the top and can be in coloured blocks or with months written. If you are planning on planting the seeds next year or even later in the year – have you already missed the optimum sowing time.
Read the small print – sometimes seeds are best started indoors weeks before the last frosts, depending on where you live you can estimate roughly when the last frosts are, where we live in the UK we are normally frost free by April / May. Work back from this date however many weeks it states on the packet. That is when the best sowing date would be for you to start the seeds indoors. In some cases you can also sow directly into the ground once the frosts have passed. It is good to get a head start though so I would definitely recommend sowing inside if you are able to.
Choose plants that you a) have room for and b) want to grow – don’t be easily swayed by the pretty pictures, also make sure to look at the dimensions of the final plant, I completely missed this one year and thought I was growing really large flowers when in fact they were tiny, I just looked at the zoomed in picture on the front and assumed they were much bigger than they were!
Take a look at the dimensions of the final plant / flowers and then you can plan approximately how many you will need to grow and how big they will be.
Now you have selected your lovely seeds for storage the next important aspect is to look at the dates on the back, many garden centres order new seeds into their stores at the end of winter / early spring but sometimes they do have older packets mixed in with these as well. Take time to select your packets with the longest date on them. They will often say ‘To be sown by’ on them with a month and year or sometimes just the year. It’s really important especially if you are planning on storing them for a while to get the longest date possible.
Only choose packets that are in good condition that have been kept dry and if possible away from the light, you may wish to pick the packet at the very back of the hook, these ones will have been kept the coolest and in the dark.
COLLECTING SEEDS FROM PLANTS / FLOWERS
In another post I will discuss the process of how to collect seeds in detail from plants but a simple summary would be that you place a mesh bag or cut a stem from a plant that is full of seeds, or maybe just has one large seed.
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