Maybe I should have called this Seed Saving for Dummies.
Ok. I Wintersowed last year ...
and I L O V E D it. I bored my friends to death talking about it, showing everyone, giving plants away =) taking pictures. and pictures. And then in the fall my dining room turned into paper bag city with paper plates and paper towels everywhere covered with blooms and branches and pods. Everything got packed away at Thanksgiving when my family came home and now that it's bitter cold outside, I thought I'd bag and tag all my seeds. Only now I'm not sure whats the best way to extract them.
I ruined my almost new flour sifter (well, unless I want my next cake to taste like bee balm. what a mess I made, LOL) I sat for days popping Japanese morning glory and petunia pods extracting seeds from each one. and I scraped seeds from EACH Cleome pod. I scraped coneflower heads and let seeds drop into a paper bag. yikes. I dont even know if I'm saving the right things. LOL Sad, eh?
So, to my DG - WS friends, I'm asking for your best tips on how to get these lil' buggers free. (can I say that on DG? ;)
Are there any inexpensive tools to get? make? I'm going to pick up a couple of sizes of window screen but what else can I do?
I still have:
black eyed susan
mealy sage cup - salvia
and more. any hints would be greatly appreciated!
ps. I'm not WSing till March or later this year. last week my last perennial jug went out Feb 15-22 and it was TOO early. But I'm hooked.
Nanniepb, I use a couple of small sieves--the kind you buy for your kitchen. They're easy to handle. I just crumble/pop the seedheads into the sieve and watch the seeds fall through to a paper plate below. I have a medium sieve and a very fine-screened one for tiny seeds.
Windowscreen would work, but the kitchen sieves are easy to manipulate and I can get them in different "screens."
coneflowers i just pick the seeds out... they are big enough. it's time consuming... but i dump onto a piece of wax paper, and use something like an index card to move the seeds and chaff around... that's easier than using a finger tip, as the seeds/chaff can stick.
Hyssop -- i use a sieve, as CCG mentioned... i have two big ones in teh kitchen, one has larger holes than the other, and it's perfect for Hyssop.
and -- sometimes it's not a big deal if there is chaff with the seeds.
Personally - i HATE doing Zinnia seeds. I think this year, if they were my seed pods... the chaff is going right back in the dirt with the seeds.
OH ... here is what i do with seed pods... works very well with coneflowers or any other seed pod that hurts your hands/fingers.
put them into a coffee can or glass jar... put the lid on and just shake it until the seeds fall out of the head/pod.
for teh agastaches/Hysspos... i do this when i gather seeds... i just shake the seed stalk right into the jar/can. and if i miss a few, that's OK because you get thousands of seeds from those.
If you're near a restaurant supply store, you could pick up something like these. Cost about $5 each. The first item is basically an 8oz measuring cup with 3 interchangeable lids, and the other picture is a deep-fry basket, which come in different sizes and screen size. Otherwise, there are many snack-foods that come in tube-like containers and have plastic lids which you can poke holes into... make multiple, interchangeable lids and make your own like the measuring cup. Works great on many, if not most seeds.
Rockgardener, that is a great idea to buy or make those little "seed cups." I never thought of that as a way of separating and saving seeds. Just shows how we can always learn something when other folks ask questions.
I apologize for the confusion, nanniepb--I should have said "strainer"!
Thanks CCG... btw, I'm sure I've passed through your area a few times in my travels to the cape over the years.
Actually, it was funny, I'd had a few ideas for cleaning seeds, most were variations on what I've read here on DG and other places but wasn't motivated to make anything, thinking there must be something I can make that's easier, and/or cheaper. I stopped by the restaurant supply store to look at sifters when I came across the measuring cup with the interchangeable lids. Don't even know what it's intended use is for in cooking. After I bought it I realized I have a bunch of Pringles containers (the cardboard tube type) with plastic lids but without holes. I could have made something myself for nothing. Btw, I use the smaller pringles containers for bulk/bulky seed storage. They have a foil inner-lining and the lids fit very snuggly for great moisture protection. I've know the Crystal Light containers, and was tempted to start drinking tea, when a friend of mine introduced me to the Pringles container. Her kids eat them semi-regularly and she saves them for me. See the pic below for one of the many things I've done with them.
I love it when we can recycle things for another purpose! Yay Pringles! For me, another delightful reason to WS is that I get to re-purpose all those milk jugs and plastic bottles that I save all year, and collect from my daughter as well.
Excuse me, I have to go buy some Pringles. A dirty job, but someone has to do it! ;-)
HAHA CCG a dirty, dirty job indeed =)
RG...great idea! you're SO organized. i'm jealous.
I love recyling too. i'm not a hoarder. but i am cheap. why buy it if you can make it.
also, i found a bunch of info on Wintersown.org about seed extraction. nothing really different than what this group volunteered to me, but it does have a lot of individual flower type info. Did you know you can get free seeds for SASE on that site? both tomato and flower seeds if you fill out two forms and send in.
so many seed types, no one system works for everthing. this is my fist year of taking seed extaction seriously, had always bought all my seeds previously. I figure as long as I don't go into business selling seeds, I shouldn't spend much money on the process.
and yes, sometimes trying to figure out what part of the plant is the seed can be the most difficult part. I have not found a good source on the web or otherwise that explains in detail, on a large scale, for finding and extracting seeds. many websites, but they're all hit or miss on any particular plant variety. that would be a good topic for a new thread. maybe DG will eventually expand to be that source? which reminds me, time to renew my subscription!
have visited Wintersown.org, lots of good info, didn't see the info on seed extraction... will revisit to check it out.
btw, I made that shelf unit with someones discarded wood and a discarded pallet. not fancy but it didn't cost me anything and it's in a room that I use just for my (inside) hobby activities.
Not hard at all. I use MS Word. Whether or not you use the pringles containers doesn't matter. Measure the hight and length of the label you need to wrap around your container. As long as those specs can fit on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (or an 8 1/2" x 14" sheet if you want to use a larger container) it will be real easy. If your label is longer then 8" then you will have to adjust your print setup to "landscape" mode. After your page is set to whatever orientation you need, just create a text box of the same size as the label you want and from that point you can add graphics and text of your choice or other textboxes and so much more like layers of graphics. Just start simple and 'grow' with it. When you've got something you like, just print it out, trim it up, wrap it around your can, securing the ends with a glue stick or something similar. it's good to have a little overlap where the two ends meet. the tigher the fit the better and more secure it will be. There will be a little trial and error but you'll have fun with the design.
Let me know if you try it and if you need me to elaborate a little more. I'll assume you know how to use Word (other wp have similar features), but if you need help let me know. Have fun... really!
Here's an image of one of my labels. It's a JPG, but in Word format they can be resized so I (used to) use them to make envelopes also.
Been reading and learning.
Was wondering you were talking about putting holes in the plastic lids, how the containers spices come in would work. Like cinnamon. chili powder ect., they all have different size holes in them. ( I am talking about the ones in the plastic bottles and not the ones in the little cans.)
Great information here. So very impressed with the Pringles seed containers AND the labels, AND the pictures, AND the shelf that was made. What a creative person!!! Also, like the ideas about harvesting seeds. I have had a lot of sore fingers, and aching neck and back from using my fingernails to get seeds out.
I have not organized my many, many seeds and plants that I have in my garden and in seed storage, but I hope this year, I will get a better handle on this. I also really, really, need to move some plants around so they are more complimentary to each other and divide some of the plants that need that.
Each year, I get so caught up in winter sowing and getting new annuals and perennials out that I don't focus enough on what I already have that needs attention.
Wow, you gals are full of great info this morning. Rock, I love your labels. DG has some labels (packet templates) available for downloading, too, FYI. I use WordPerfect in my work and it can be used as easily as Word to create labels. As far as printing them out for gluing to jars or cans, you can purchase from an office supply store labels in various sizes, which are self-stick and peel right off the backing, saving the extra step in gluing or taping. I have these in 2X4 and smaller sizes as well. It's a great time saver.
I save some seed germination containers. This year, I have saved some clear plastic glasses I get when I eat at Panarra. They aren't real big like milk jugs and soda bottles. Usually, I only need a few plants-especially the perennials. So, the glasses are big enough. I also like the 2 liter soda bottles better than the jugs.
1. I can see through them a little better.
2. They don't require as much soil.
3. Using the soda bottles gives fewer plants---but plenty for my garden.
4. For me, they are easier to handle. I cut the tops off 1/3 down. Make upside down "V"s on the top 1/3 of the soda bottle so the top will easily slip into the bottom.
5. Cutting the upside down "V"s allows me to lift the top easily to see what's going on.
6. When the plants get bigger, it allows me to raise the top to allow more air circulation by having the V's.
When I get ready to WS, I go to the recycle center and pick and choose what I want. That way, I don't have to save all my stuff year around. There's all kinds of neat stuff to use in the recycle center. Plus, it makes me feel good reusing the stuff. I get newspapers there too to use underneath my projects to keep track of the dirt and seeds.
I also use blind slats and put them in the Winter sown containers. I find that to be the easiest way to keep track. I also put information on the slat: Sun/Shade, How far apart, (>) and Height, (^) etc.
nanniepb, I just received my Seeds Of Change print catalog, and it lists two types of products that are relevant to our discussion here. One is a "seed saver kit" for $23 (see site below) and the the other products are seed cleaning screens ($49.95) in several different sizes of mesh, depending on which size of seeds you are sifting out. You can get to these screen products by going to www.seedsofchange.com and typing in "seed cleaning screens."
Personally, I think the screens are too expensive for my amateur seed saving self, but the seed saving kit does have some interesting items in it, as well as a guide for collecting, cleaning, and storing.
For the seed saving kit: http://www.seedsofchange.com/SearchResults.aspx?searchTB=seed%20saver%20kit&SearchTypeDD=3
I think amateur seed saver describes me exactly! in my adventures, I found a sink screen and then my uncle gave me a section of screen from his back porch. I think I'll ask my dad to make a frame for it...that looks handy and he likes to putter around his shop. I think I'm good till I graduate, lol. but thanks for the link...I checked out the tomatoes and decided I needed a copy too.