Thursday, January 6, 2011

Collecting and treasuring seeds

During my childhood, I collected marbles, chocolate wrappers, dried leaves and flower petals, and what not. As I grew, I continued to collect all this stuff plus more ‘junk.’ When I had to become wiser, I collected loads of books; I still continue to collect (and read) books. Ha ha… I leave it to you to decide if I have become wiser!

The point is that the habit to collect stuff stays throughout one’s lifespan. Whether your parents (or spouse or partners) yell at you for stuffing the house with useless junk or your roommate raises eyebrows about your ‘junk’ collection, the habit continues; only the collection items change. Such junk may actually be a collector’s treasure!

There are different kinds of treasures that we collect and guard. One such treasure is the seeds of plants that we want to see at our garden. My little garden produced a variety of seeds, and I collected them. However, I hadn't sorted them and stored them properly. Last night I made paper covers (or envelopes) and packed the seeds in them; labeled the packets too.

What’s my method of collecting seeds, you ask?
There are seeds from our garden, seeds from other gardens, and seeds from the produce (vegetables, fruits, herbs, or flowers) purchased from the market.

To collect seeds from our garden: I leave the last fruits or vegetables to ripe fully, and flowers to bloom and wither. After they dry, I cut them and air them (or dry them further) for a few days. And later I store them. For some seeds, I let them be protected inside their natural covers. Whenever I need to sow the seeds, I carefully extract only the seeds. For example, I have stored entire (dried) okras and chillies.

To collect seeds from other gardens: When I visit friends or family and if they happen to have gardens, I may get a few seeds from them. It’s simple if they themselves give me some dried seeds. If the hosts ask me to pluck seeds, I examine the ones that make potential seeds, and also check if the hosts have sufficient seeds for themselves before I take the seeds.

To collect seeds from purchased produce: When I cut the vegetables, for example, cucumber or gourds, I remove a few nicely grown seeds, wash them, and let them dry.  If I am peeling beans or peas, I save a few nice looking ones to make seeds. I also collected the chikoo seeds, marigold seeds (from a garland), and papaya seeds. That's how I managed to grow beans and cucumber at home. :-)

Do I poison-treat the seeds?
No. But some seeds that I have purchased were treated to protect them from ants and other insects. Ensure that you read the information on the seed packets.

What seeds have I collected so far?
In the photo, you can see a wide spread of seeds. Yes, sure, guess them!

Assorted seeds
How do I store them?
Initial thought was to buy a few plastic zipped covers to store the seeds. But then why not use materials that are easily available? So, I made paper envelopes from newspaper and wrapping sheets (used ones). Labeled them all for easier recognition. I put all the packets in a plastic cover, and then tuck the cover away inside a box. That’s all.

The collection
I would love to hear from you about the techniques that you use for collecting seeds. Do drop a line.



  1. Wow you organised them so well ;-) I use small ziplock bags and label them like you did. And I store them in plastic case. But I think your seed bags look really wonderful.

  2. Hi Steph,

    Thanks! Ziplock bags is a good option. To avoid fungus growth in case the seeds aren't properly dry, I put the seeds in paper bags. Suddenly, I end up having so many seeds; start to wonder what to do with them. :D



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