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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving and Starting

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving and Starting
by Sheri Ann Richerson
Alpha, 2012

A major benefit of saving seed and starting plants from saved seed rather than seeds or plants that have been shipped from another location is it allows you to grow plants that are better adapted to local environmental conditions.

This growers' guide starts off with a primer on pollination, gathers together tips on harvesting and storing seeds, collects advice on germination, stores details on vegetables and flowering plants, and sows the inspiration to save and to cultivate.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving and Starting

"What it really all comes down to is the pleasure of working with seeds - harvesting them, storing  them, sowing them, and nurturing the tiny seedlings that grow from them," says garden writer Sheri Ann Richerson, who also authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening and 101 Organic Gardening Tips.

Knowing What's What in the Garden

Labeling and documenting data is the key...

Plants of the same genus look similar
enough to one another that you may be able to make a good guess, but seeds vary considerably. Some seeds that are not even remotely connected look alike.

When labeling plant tags, always use a pencil or a botanical pen or marker.

Permanent markers tend to fade over time. Check your tags regularly as you walk
through your garden.

Smoke Seeds

The seeds of some plants do not germinate readily. Hard seed coats on flowering sweet peas, lupine and candle bush need scarification in order to sprout and grow. This means the seed must be nicked, sanded or scratched to allow the embryo to break through and emerge.

Other seeds won't give up their dormancy until they smell smoke. Plants like salvia, protea, senna, tea trees and kangaroo paw that have been removed from their natural environments need a smoke signal to begin germination.

"Smoke seed primer disks are an easy way to smoke seeds. These disks dissolve in water. Then you simply soak the seeds in the smoky water for 24 hours.

"The smoke seed primer disks are made up of an absorbent paper that has been impregnated with fynbos-smoke-saturated water."

You can also make smoky water with hickory seasoning or liquid smoke found with spices at most grocers. Mix with water (9 parts water to one part smoke), soak the seeed overnight or until they begin to swell, then plant.

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Oil seed rape - ready for harvest
Ready for Harvest

There's no best time to harvest seeds. Each plant is different, so you must abide by the plant's natural cycles and harvest the seeds only when the plant is ready. The seeds must reach maturity on the plant - or in the plant, as the case may be - for them to be viable. Most of the time, this means allowing them to form and dry on the plant.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening
Excursions into Eating, Power, and the Past

Garden Markers
Garden Markers

101 Organic Gardening Tips
101 Organic Gardening Tips

Liquid Smoke
Liquid Smoke

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