Well, I learned something about calendula this year. It drops seeds and grows like a weed! From the one start I planted last year, three huge bunches have grown in three different places this year! Fortunately, it’s not hard to pull out, and it sure is pretty. I’ve realized that it’s okay to have annuals instead of perennials if you choose varieties that can re-seed themselves or grow again from saved seed with a bit of help from you.
Stories of a Rookie Seed Saver
I’ve been learning a lot from an Argentine family in the neighborhood who have a son N’s age. Both parents are scientists, and they have a whole little urban farm out back with chickens, fruit trees, veggies and everything. Aurelio, the Dad, reminded me that only the seeds of “heirloom” veggies can be saved. Hybridized plants won’t produce seeds that reproduce the same plant. I’ve been buying seed packets and starts for my garden, but I hope to transition away from that. For now, I buy only heirloom seeds and work on saving seeds from the plants I grow.
My first experiment in seed-saving was with parsley, which gardening books will tell you to yank out of the ground after a year because it’s an annual. Well, I suppose it may be killed by hard frosts, but I had a plant that was not killed. Au contraire, it grew to enormous, ugly proportions right outside my front door in its second year. I figured I would let it go to seed, and boy, did that take forever! It finally did, and it produced so much seed that the whole bed where it had been then came up in parsley the following spring. When the seed heads dried out, I collected the seeds and scattered some on the soil. I’ve left one stalk of one parsley plant to go to seed this year. I don’t intend to buy another parsley start ever again!
This year, I’m trying arugula. I left one stalk to grow huge and ugly – it fell over and spilled out of the planter, so it wasn’t that ugly. Plus the yarrow pretty much hid it.
Distracting flowers are important in garden design! I read that I could pick it and dry it upside down once the seed heads had formed, instead of waiting for it to dry out while in the soil. So I picked it and put it near the deck, meaning to figure out a way to hang it in the near future. I never got around to it, but no matter. Today I found it on the rock wall there, totally dry. Did the seed heads make a rattling sound when I shook them? Yes! So I popped them open over a brown paper bag and collected the seeds. We’ll see if I manage to grow arugula from them this fall.
If you’d like to see more info about saving seeds, check out this comprehensive video by Colorful Canary on YouTube that shows how to collect veggie, fruit, herb, and flower seeds, including arugula and carrot seeds among other things!