Store seeds for spring

Merry meet all,

How to Store Seeds
Store seeds for the next spring season! Collect the seeds from the herbs you grew and there will be no need to purchase new seeds next spring. This saves you money in buying seeds and if you grew organic herbs, you will know they contain no pesticides. If you store seeds properly, then they should be fresh and viable by the time spring returns. Saving seeds is economical and enjoyable.

It is important to keep seeds clean for storage. How you collect them, when you collect the seeds, and how you clean them determines how the seeds will last till next spring. You have to wait till the seed heads have signaled they are ready to be collected. You don’t want to discover the seeds are molded come next March. That will ruin your efforts.

Supplies
Invest in paper envelopes, a sharp pair of shears for cutting herbs, twine or embroidery floss, and Mason jars. Dry jars and paper envelopes are invaluable in saving seeds properly. They cost pennies. Seeds can be stored in jars, paper bags, and envelopes and at certain temperatures. It takes patience and effort to store seeds but well worth the effort.

Collecting Seeds
Seeds vary in how they can be collected, cleaned, and saved for storage. It depends on the herb and the type of seed you wish to save. Some seeds require threshing, winnowing, and some seeds shatter when still attached to the plant. All of this has to be taken into account before collecting seeds.

Some wet seeds need to be fermented first. Dry seeds can be winnowed from the chaff. Try to wait as long as you can before removing seed husks from the plants. The longer you wait, the better quality of the seeds in the husks. These seeds reach maturity while attached to the plant.

Preparing Your Seeds
To clean wet seeds, scoop the pulp and seeds into a slanted bowl filled with water. Healthy seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl. Non-viable seeds float to the surface. Repeat the process a few times to rinse the seeds clean and to collect as many healthy seeds as possible. Rinsing the seeds keeps the seeds from sticking to whatever surface you place them on.

To dry wet seeds, line a strainer with a paper towel to absorb the remaining moisture from the seeds. Next, spread the seeds on glass or a ceramic surface. Place the glass or ceramic plate somewhere dark, dry and warm for several days before putting the seeds in a jar. Make sure the seeds are thoroughly and that the jars are completely dry. Storing seeds or herbs before they are properly dried or putting them in damp jars invites mold, thereby ruining your efforts and time. Remember to date and label the jar. Store out of direct sunlight.

To store dry seeds, wash the seed heads to remove insects and dirt. Then if you saved the flower, seed husk and stem, bundle it together with twine or string and hang to air dry. Wait till the leaves and husks are crisp and dry before removing the seeds. Or cut the seed heads from the plants, wash, and leave the seed heads on a screen or towel to air dry. Once dry, winnow the seeds to remove the chaff. Dry the seeds again. It is crucial that you leave the seeds to dry as long as you can to ensure the seeds don’t mold. You have to be patient to properly dry seeds.

Common Herbs
I have included some commonly used herbs below with tips on how to dry them to store the seeds.
Ocimum Basil
You can harvest the seed heads when they turn brown. To harvest the seeds, resist the urge to pinch your basil plants. Let the seed heads dry out. Separate the clusters from the seeds in a bowl. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. You can blow off the chaff or shake the bowl to remove the chaff. Basil seeds are small, round and black. Store the seeds in a dark airtight jar and label and date the jar.

Chamaemelum Chamomile
Chamomile is a perennial herb belongs to the Aster family. The flower head is an achene, that is, one dry indehiscent, fruit bearing one seed connected to the flower ovary. Wait until the flower heads have dried and turned brown before collecting seeds. Dry the seeds on screens or paper towel then thresh the seeds. Store the seeds in a labeled and dated jar or paper envelope.

Lavender angustifolia Lavender
To save the seeds from a lavender plant, wait till the stems turn brown. Cut the stems with a clean pair of sharp shears. Bundle the lavender stems together and place in a brown paper bag. The stems should face upward. Leave the bare stems in a tied bag in a dark, dry place to dry out. When the stems are dry, run your fingers down the stems to separate the seeds and discard the stems. Empty the contents of the paper bag onto a flat surface. Separate the seeds from the flowers. Store the seeds in a dry, airtight jar.

Lemon Balm Melissa
Bees and people alike love lemon balm for their warm lemony aroma. Lemon balm is a perennial and a member of the mint family, like lavender. The flowers are white but do hold tiny black seeds. Each flower has four single-seed clusters. Put a plastic bag over the flower heads to save the seeds outside. When the plant has matured, go outside early on a dry morning and remove the stems and plastic bags. Once inside, spread the stems on a screen or paper towel. Rub the seedpods to get the seeds. You can store them to dry in a plastic bag. The stems should face upward. The seeds will then land in the bottom of the bag. Store the seeds in a dry airtight jar out of direct sunlight.

Mentha x piperita Peppermint
Mint is a perennial valued for its flavor. A variety of mint exists such as peppermint, apple mint, spearmint, and chocolate mint. The flowers grow in spikes. Wait until the spikes turn brown. Store the seedpods in a cardboard box or envelope for two weeks to dry. Open the box or envelope and shake the seedpods to remove the seeds. Pour the seeds into a labeled and dated envelope. Store the seeds in the paper envelope at a temperature of forty or fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

Storing and saving seeds allows you the convenience of knowing where your herbs came from, saves you money, and enables you to share your bounty with your friends and family. If you grew organic herbs, you will have the satisfaction of knowing they contain no GMOs or chemicals. Seeds may be of similar shape or color, so sort seeds in their own jars or envelopes and label them clearly. Otherwise, you may end up growing lemon balm when you wanted chamomile. If you save and store your seeds properly, you will be blessed with an array of seeds to choose from to germinate in the spring season.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Filed under harvest, seeds, storage

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