Time to Harvest Seeds from Annuals

Author: Meera, November 1, 2017

If you are like me, you hate to see anything wasted. Case in point, seeds from a summer flower garden.


Giant cosmos dazzle when planted as a hedge, the middle of the garden, or in a container

These cosmos show off feathery foliage and a bonanza of blooms


Walking around my farmette this time of year, I see many seed pods on flowers that I can take off, dry, and store. Scores of my flowering plants are perennials that come back again next year, but may others are annuals, grown throughout one season.


Just because they are annuals doesn’t mean that I have to buy new seed in order to grow them next year. No. I will gather their seeds (found in flower heads or seedpods or the calyx, located at the base of the flower on the plant). I can then pull the annual and toss the plant biomass into compost pile. The seeds I’ve collected will be further dried and stored in paper envelopes labeled with the date collected and the plant’s name and color.



In the plant store you’ll find hybridized plants along with those NOT MARKED as F1 hybrids. Seeds you collect from the non-hybridized plants will come back true to their parents the next year.  Non-hybrids include heirloom, open-pollinated plants that some gardeners (myself included) prefer for their gardens.


Zinnias are old garden favorites spanning generations of family gardens

Zinnias are old garden favorites spanning generations of family gardens


This year, I sowed zinnia seeds that I had collected two years ago. Tossing them into a bare area of the garden, I forgot about them. When they not only grew but bloomed profusely, I felt immensely pleased with myself for taking the time to collect that seed.


Zinnias are annuals. Their tiny seeds are located in the flower heads. They can be removed once the plant has finished blooming and dried.


Nasturtiums are annuals that drop their seeds (the size of a pinto bean) and will often re-seed where they’ve grown before. I  like to collect these into paper envelopes and label according to color and whether they grow as a vine or bush. They actually prefer poor soil and bloom well in full sun (less so, in shade). Nasturtiums are also edible flowers–just wash, dry, and toss into a salad or use as a garnish.


Petunias are lovely annuals that carry their seed in the calyx (just under the flower). The calyx swells with seeds so you’ll want to remove the dead flowers along with the part of the stem that includes the calyx (top of stem) . Pull off the petals. When the calyx dries and splits open, you’ll see the seeds. Save these for planting.



Marigolds come in shades of yellow, gold, red, and rust

Marigolds come in shades of yellow, gold, red, and rust


Marigolds add splashes of bright yellow color to your garden. Remove the dead flowers and save part of the thickened stem beneath the flower head (the calyx). Split open the calyx at the top of the stem to find the long, slender seeds. Dry and save these for your next year’s flower garden.



There are lots of other annuals that you can grow in a flower garden if you take the time to harvest and dry their seeds. Consult a gardening guide or plant grower’s catalog to learn more about the annuals you might want to grow. Then give seed harvesting a try so that you’ll get all your favorite blooms in a future garden.





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Click here to see more: http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm


This new novel is available Sept. 26, 2017

My new novel is online and in brick-and-mortar bookstores everywhere





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Edible Flowers Add Flavor and A Flourish

Author: Meera, August 17, 2013



Edible flowers make ordinary butter beautiful

Edible flowers make ordinary butter beautiful


Picture a red nasturtium or peppery-tasting marigold displayed around a mound of lemony-yellow butter. Or, imagine the beauty of a handful of sugared purple violets or red rose petals, sans the sour petal base, crowning an iced picnic cake.



During bygone eras when the Romans ruled the world or Queen Victoria reigned during the age named for her, flowers weren’t just for bouquets on the table, they formed an integral part of the food that was consumed.



Many flowers and seeds are poisonous, so it is imperative that you correctly identify any flower or plant you plan to eat or use on food. Also, make sure you are not allergic to the plant before integrating its blooms into your diet.



What flowers are growing in your garden that you could use in your culinary endeavors?

What flowers are growing in your garden that you could use in your culinary endeavors?



Several edible florals include the blossoms of herbs such as lavender, dill, garlic chive, coriander, basil, bee balm, marjoram, oregano, anise hyssop, winter savory, summer savory, sage, and mint. Also edible are the flowers of certain varieties of pumpkins, squash, cauliflower, scarlet runner bean, radish, sweet garden pea, and fennel.



Consider also the delicate blooms of society garlic, dianthus, pansy, signet marigold, red clover, African marigold, plum, scented geranium (rose, lemon). You can candy the blossoms of apple and crabapple, but the seeds are poisonous.



Lemon and orange tree blossoms are fragrant, lovely, and tasty

Lemon and orange tree blossoms are fragrant, lovely, and tasty



Some blooms, such as hibiscus (China rose), mint, rose, and chamomile are used to flavor teas. Lemon blossoms will have a slightly bitter taste whereas orange blossoms are sweet but both are lovely floating in crystal bowls of punch.



Research your chosen plant and correctly identify it before using it in any food preparation. See, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/rg302.pdf

Also see, http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07237.html





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