by Paige Puckett—
In the spring, I invent reasons to go to home-improvement stores so I can slip a couple of seed packets into the cart, hoping I don’t get in trouble with my husband. He’s not stingy; he just knows I have a shoebox full of seed packets already. However, one of my goals of applying permaculture principles to our small kitchen garden means it isn’t enough for me to start from seed; I want to buy those seeds only once. Extreme? Maybe. Fun? Yes. I have been saving tomato and flower seeds for several years now, and last year I started saving lettuce seeds, too
The lettuce was bitter from the getgo this spring (I probably should have tasted it before donating several bags to the Food Shuttle), so I pulled most out to compost, leaving only a couple heads of each kind to keep growing. Those remaining heads have finally flowered just in time for fall planting. This week, I had my preschooler help me pluck the flowers that had already “poofed” and we scattered them in a newly turned-over section of the garden. Most of his seeds were lifted by the breeze and landed on the path, but he loved participating and explaining what he was learning. The way he phrases it is, “Those seeds want to become plants, right?” He’s learning right along with me.
The trick to saving flower and lettuce seeds is making sure they have time to fully develop. This was our first year to grow cosmos, and I’ve been deadheading it all summer to keep the blossoms coming. I knew at some point I had to let it go to seed so I could enjoy the plant next year. I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept plucking off seedheads and opening them to see if they were ready. This evening, I discovered that it is quite obvious when they are ready. They poof, just like the lettuce!
Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.