Seed saving tips for the Flea Market Gardener!
Seed saving is a fascinating hobby. Near the end of the growing season, it’s natural for us to collect seeds and save them to plant when the rains come. We sow the seeds we have saved or share any with neighbors or friends. Who hasn’t tucked away a paper napkin or tissue with seeds and placed it carefully in a purse thinking that, of course, you’ll remember they are there, and in fact, remember what they were! Have you?
Here is the story of Tonya Fennig’s adventure into seed swapping and where it led her:
Discovering a common interest
“Hi, my name is Tonya Fennig and I am the admin of “The Seed & Gardening Exchange” Facebook page. I love to garden and take pictures of my plants and flowers as well as the critters that land on them!
I started the page at the suggestion of a friend whom I have never met. It began when I posted a picture of my purple and white Datura and commented that I had seeds from it to share. The sharing started from there!” Tonya is now joined on her Facebook page, by Lisa Collier and Jeanie Merritt.
So here I am and I and have sent out lots of seeds so far and also have also received a few. I have currently shipped to and received seeds from Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Wales-United Kingdom and of course my home state Indiana.”
Tonya says, “When exchanging we include the cost of postage and by sharing our seeds with each other it really is like Christmas for gardeners year round. I look forward to ‘meeting’ new friends and interacting with all my seed sharing friends, old and new!”
How I collect and save seeds
“My process for collecting seeds is very simple and is one that I am sure most people know. With flowers, I wait until the “head” has dried but before it has fallen completely off and I clip it off with a pair of scissors. ”
Tonya says, “I lay them out on computer paper or paper towel to finish drying for a day or two before I take them apart with my hands. In the case of Coneflowers, I use a very large darning needle to “pluck” the seeds out.”
Seeds must dry thoroughly to save them until planting time, so store them in paper towel ‘envelopes’ tucked into open plastic baggies. See Tonya’s storage system below. In late summer all my trays and platters are filled with drying seeds! I file mine in an easy paper bag file shown in My easy seed saving system.
“It’s just about the same process with vegetables. Once it is cut open and you clean out the center I leave the seeds to lay on paper toweling until they are completely dry. Then separate them and place them in small plastic baggies or small manila envelopes from an office supply.” Tonya tells us.
Inspiring a young generation of gardeners
Tonya says, “With all of this seed swapping I have been doing lately, I had to tell you about a little visitor that I had last night. His name is Isaiah and he is about 9 yrs old. He told his mom after school yesterday that in his class they did a project with seeds and he wanted to do it at home.
So she got a hold of me since I am always posting on pictures on Flea Market Gardening of flowers and such. They stopped by late, so I took the flashlight and walked him out to one of my flower beds to show him the different kinds of flowers that I had. He asked all kinds of questions.”
“They just moved into a new house recently that has an attached greenhouse and he wants to use it. So I fixed him up with some little seed packets and told him that there was only one thing that he had to do….I said “since I am sharing my seeds with you there is one thing you have to do” He said “What, share with you when I get seeds?” I said “No, you have to share with someone else” After a moment, he said “Grandma!”
So now this little guy is planning a flower and vegetable garden for next spring He sure is a little cutie and I am glad that I was able to help with his project.” Tonya says.
Isaiah Weekley and I have now been given permission to have full run of the little greenhouse at his school that was donated 3 yrs ago and has not really been used. We are in the process of cleaning it up inside and out to get ready for seed planting where we will be working with the “Life Skills” class (special needs children) at his school. We have plans for flowers to sell and a garden so the Life skills class can sell produce at the farmers market next fall.
Here are some of Tonya’s flowers-
We hope you try collecting saving and sharing seeds this Fall. So enjoyable and you never know how you may be inspiring others!
*A bit about Datura:
Datura, commonly called Angel’s Trumpet, Jimsonweed or Moonflower, should not be confused with Brugmansia, a plant also called Angel’s Trumpet. Datura is a beautiful vining or upright plant with huge white or lavender tinged white flowers.
Wikipedia says ‘Datura belongs to the classic “witches’ weeds,” along with deadly nightshade, henbane, and mandrake. Most parts of the plants contain toxic hallucinogens, and datura has a long history of use for causing delirious states and death. It was well known as an essential ingredient of love potions and witches’ brews.’ Pretty fascinating and even spooky!
The pods are round, spiky and ornate which gives this plant another common name of Thorn apple. Tonya’s plant may be Datura stramonium or Jimson weed, an especially attractive, upright woody plant, Zone 8-11. ~~ Sue