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Courtesy of Joshua Lanzarini via Unsplash

Seed collecting is right up there with stamp collecting (still the most popular type of collecting), coin collecting (still No. 2), and collecting vinyl records (currently getting more popular). Passionate collectors can devote an entire room to their treasures. But seed collectors? An entire stash can fit in a shoebox. And if you gather seeds from your own garden, it’s a lot cheaper. Here’s what you need to know.

Time, Clippers, and Coffee Filters 

September and October are ideal months to collect seeds in the South Sound. It’s dry, and plants are beginning to set seeds. Unless you were really diligent about taking off every spent flower, you’ll have more seeds than you can imagine. First, find a dry spent vegetable, herb, or ornamental flower that has set its seed. Clip off the spent flower, and sprinkle the seeds on a piece of copy paper so you can see them. Take some time to separate the seeds from the other junk that comes with shaking the flower. Th en put the good seeds in a coffee filter or envelope to keep seeds dry. Label what you collected and keep everything in a cool, dry place you won’t forget. I like the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. Voila! You are on your way to growing next year’s garden.

Cut, Bag, and Hang 

Another popular seed-harvesting method is to “bag it and hang it.” Cut long stems with the seed heads still attached. Put the stems and seed heads down in a paper bag. Label the bag; tie the bag at the top with a string; and find a cool, dry place (like a garage) to hang it. Aft er a few weeks, take down the bag and give it a good shake. Hopefully, the seeds will just fall into the bag. Store seeds in envelopes, jars, or coffee filters. Store until you’re ready to use. Vegetable gardening is popular, and last season, front-yard raised beds popped up everywhere. Commercial seed companies actually sold out of vegetable seeds. Even plants were in short supply. Collecting and growing plants from your own seeds makes sense.

The Book You Need 

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Courtesy Amazon

The Manual of Seed Saving: Harvesting, Storing, and Sowing Techniques for Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits by Andrea Heistinger

Seed strains are disappearing around the world, so seed collecting, breeding, and saving have been the focus of many governments, private companies, universities, and amateurs who want to make sure that varieties are improved, but also not lost.

The Manual is a comprehensive explanation of how and why we need to save seeds. Plants have endangered species, too. Everything you wanted to know about vegetable, herb, and fruit seeds is discussed. How long are seeds viable? What temperature do they need to germinate? Why do we need crop diversity? How important are amateur gardeners and small farmers in seed selecting? Gardeners who grow from seed and collect and save their own seeds are major contributors to world food health. The Manual will convince you.

Timber Press | $40