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It's sow simple; Gather your own seeds to save cash.

Byline: with Carol Klein GARDENING CLUB

BThere's nothing quite as satisfying as growing plants from seeds you collected in your GARDEN. It's not too late to start saving now..

IF it stays dry long enough, all other activities will be abandoned this week while I dash out and collect the very last seeds from the garden's.

It was my mum who first showed me how to find the big round seeds of nasturtiums, pop them in a paper bag and write their name on it.

Many children start their horticultural careers by pushing a few fat nasturtium seeds into the ground.

Results are almost instantaneous. If the soil is warm and moist, germination takes place within a few days - twin cotyledon leaves emerge and it's all Jack and the Beanstalk from there on.

It's too late to collect nasturtiums now, unless you live in a very sheltered area, but there are other kinds of seed around, such as calendula and Cornflower s.

SEEDS FOR LIFE We're used to thinking that seeds come in brightly illustrated packets from the garden centre or DIY store, but once upon a time most people saved their own.

It's thrilling to collect seeds from plants you grew then use them to grow others. All you need is common sense and a sprinkling of knowledge about what happens to seeds between ripening and germination.

It also pays to follow nature's lead.

Seeds need to be collected as close as possible to the Moment when the plant would naturally distribute them. So it should be dry.

If you have ever been close to a euphorbia on a hot day in August or September, you will have heard the series of small explosions as capsules burst and seeds are catapulted into the air.

There is a point at which the seed head of an opium poppy turns brown, its sides shrivel and a series of holes appear around the top. It rattles gently and when the plant is knocked black seeds escape.

YOUR COLLECTOR'S KIT You'll need paper bags and envelopes, a pen and a sharp pair of scissors or secateurs. In most cases the whole seed head is collected.

Grasses with dense heads, such as melica altissima, can be cut and collected whole in bags. But with fine grasses, which have seeds spaced out along stems - stipa arundinacea or molinia and their ilk - it's best to remove seeds by gently running your fingers along the stems.

With umbels (of the apiaceae family), from the translucent discs of bupleurum to fennel and anthriscus, or the domes and chalices of eryngium and astrantia, the best technique is to invert the seed heads whole in paper bags.

STORING AND SOWING One of the major factors in successful seed storage is keeping out moisture. Seeds should be thoroughly dry to increase their lifespan.

For now, our seeds hang in paper bags in the shed, clipped together on a series of skirt hangers.

That way, the seeds are kept out of direct sun, the atmosphere will be wellbalanced and dry and the temperature will be kept constant. Soon we will clean our seeds at Glebe Cottage and keep them in envelopes until sowing commences.

Some seeds, though, I can start to use straight away. September, October and again in the spring are the times when seeds of hardy annuals can be broadcast, but I have been sowing a few things now where there are patches of soil already bare. I'm literally throwing the seed around, not too thickly, and using one kind of seed per area - opium poppies, love-in-the-mist, cornflowers and calendulas.

Members of the lily family have a wide range of different seeds. Fritillaries and lilies have thin, papery seeds, which are stacked up like a pile of crepes. Agapanthus seeds are thin, too, but laid flat in overlapping layers inside a papery capsule that bursts into sections. The seeds are black with tails and look like tadpoles. Agapanthus are easy to grow from seed and you may get flowering plants in as little as two years.

I recently collected seeds from another member of the lily family - hemerocallis lilioasphodelus. This is a day-lily, one of my all-time favourites with elegant pale yellow flowers and delicious scent.

One of the earliest to flower, this year it had a fine display of seed heads. As they ripen and split, the stems are cut into bags and the big, black shiny seeds roll out.

Five seed types to collect now BCut the stems of day-lilies straight into bags and the seeds will roll out

CAPTION(S):

Hang up seeds in paper bags in your shed

Seeds of calendula can be collected late Poppy heads rattle when ready

Pictures: Jonathan Buckley

Cornflower seeds can be broadcast now
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 18, 2012
Words:793
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