Plants that have become crunchy and dry are ideal for harvesting your seeds to replant in next year’s garden. These “dry” seeds – like artichokes, beans, chocolate chips, Nicotiana, peppers, broth, and sunflower – require no effort except to separate the seeds from the pods, store them in a paper bag (not plastic) or container, and keep them until they are sown next spring.
But the pods should be absolutely crunchy and dry. Any residual moisture can rot stored seeds if you want to plant them. See below for details by specific plant.
It was the first year I ripened one of my artichoke plants, its pretty sapphire-purple flowers into brownish fluff. I struggled to find the seeds in the fluff, provided they could be like sunflowers, at the base of the fluff.
They were, but firmly at the base of the hair and what-used-to-be-edible petals. While they were really hard to separate, there were a lot of seeds, maybe only a quarter cup of this flower!
The seedlings I started last spring are almost ready to be transplanted into the garden.
I had accidentally saved beans from the first that appeared in June. Some had evolved too much for me to eat – along with the beans that completely formed in the green pod – so I picked them and threw them aside and forgot about them.
This past week I have picked all the remaining beans that I deliberately ripened on the plants that are no longer watered. Just out of curiosity, I also picked up the ones I had set aside months ago, and they seemed just as dry and ripe. So now I have a nice selection of early and after carriers that extend throughout the Season.
The breaking of the crispy pods showed the beautiful colors of the many varieties.
Although my salad was screwed and sown at the end of last spring and I only grow lettuce in cool weather, I included it here as a point of technique.
As the many small flowers on the peduncle of the salad ripen for several weeks, I place the entire head of the peduncle in a large paper bag so that the seed stays in the bag instead of sowing in the entire immediate area.
Once you can tear off the peduncle, the seeds are ripe. But if there is the slightest tremor when bending the rod and it does not tear immediately, it is not yet completely dry, then let it dry for another week or two.
Keep the seed head bag wherever it is dry, moderately warm and dark.
If you are ready to sow the seed after this fall or next spring, you do not need to separate the seed from the straw. Simply take handfuls, crush the dry plant material to detach the seed from its small seed heads and sprinkle it on the surface of the soil. This little straw helps anchor the seeds and give a little shade so they can germinate.
I have had this plant rehearsed in my garden since I bought seeds from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historical plants in Monticello 30 years ago. It retains only self-seeding. F it is therefore a long, uninterrupted Season of growth and re-seeding. And this plant is only the last descendant of these first seeds – certainly acclima