Good morning! Can you believe we have reached the end of the growing season? But it is never too early to think about next year, so I decided to talk this week about collecting seeds.

Not everyone collects seeds, but most of us benefit from them in our garden with a little help from Mother Nature. When we forget to deadhead fading blooms on coneflowers and brown-eyed Susans, next spring we have extra plants in various garden spots.

It is truly easy enough to get those extra plants just where you want them.

By collecting seeds, you can choose where those extra plants will grow and bloom next spring. This is also true of annuals, not just perennials. Poppies and morning glories are excellent examples. Once you plant these two annuals, from seed or plant, and they grow and bloom, you are likely to have them popping up in that same place for years to come.

Collecting seeds can also save you a lot of money, especially when it comes to perennials or if you plant flat after flat of annuals each year. There are plenty of plants out in your gardens right now to begin the process and, if you remember, start early next spring as well. Then you will have collected seed for spring, summer and fall flowers.

Here is a short list of perennials easily grown from seed: columbines, pinks, lupines, Shasta daisies, coneflowers, coreopsis, brown-eyed Susans, primrose and hardy ice plant.

Annuals easily grown from seed include poppies, morning glories, cleomes, marigolds, cosmos and portulaca.
Of these, there are two plants you may not be familiar with: hardy ice and portulaca. Hardy ice plant is a great plant, a lot like many sedums. In fact, they may even be related. Ice plant tends to have bright green, moisture-filled leaves (like aloe) and it blooms in yellow, pink, red or white. It is a great groundcover for areas where most everything else dies. It loves sun and heat (the hotter the better), likes lean (read common) soil and usually needs nothing more than rain.

Hardy ice can cover large areas fairly quickly. For example, at my house we have a large lawn and garden area that faces south and has been cleared – and gets hot. Hardy ice plant just keeps going along. When I weed the area where it grows, I empty the weeding pail over a certain part of the cliff. Well, that cliff and a rather large rock I used to stand on to dump the bucket are now covered with growing and thriving ice plant. It is really pretty.

As to portulaca, it has pretty much the same description, but is supposedly an annual. At my house, though, it comes back on a regular basis with its cheery bright colored flowers. Portulaca is great in pots because it takes the heat.

Look for brown
If you walk through your garden right now, you should be able to spot several plants that have developed seed heads. It is best to leave them on the plants until they have begun to dry. Then simply take a small pair of scissors, some plastic bags and a permanent marker and start walking the garden. Just because the bloom has faded, this does not mean the seed head has ripened. Look at them carefully because most turn brown as they ripen. Snip ripe seed heads into the plastic bag and label the bag. Cut lots of each.

When you get inside, pick one that looks to be very dry, gently open it and tap out the contents onto a piece of white paper. If they come out easily and look plump, they are ready. For seed heads that do not look as dry, set them aside in a single layer in a shallow basket or cardboard box and let them sit in a cool, dry area for one to four weeks.

Seeds will continue to ripen as long as they are inside the seed pod. When they look ready, open them and repeat the seed removal process. Place the seeds into small plastic bags or glass bottles and label them with the plant name and the date. Store them in a cool, dry place.

You can plant them in late April or early May if the ground is not wet and be sure to place a marker of some kind to remind you they are not weeds. Popsicle sticks work well as markers. Not every seed will germinate so don’t be afraid to plant many. The worst that will happen is you will need to thin them out.

I have had great success with daisies, coneflowers, coreopsis and brown-eyed Susans by simply taking the seeds from the seed pods in the garden and walking to wherever I want them next year and planting them there. Just scratch up a patch of soil, put the seeds no deeper than ¼ to ½ inches and don’t forget the marker. This should work especially well this year because there is so much moisture in the soil and there will still be many warm days ahead before hard frost. The seeds for annuals, however, other than poppies, cosmos and morning glories, should be put into plastic envelopes and put out in the spring.

Until next time, “gather thee flowers while thee may” to fill the house with their color and collect some seeds. The orchards have opened so take a break and go for a walk in the trees, pick some apples and maybe make a pie for dinner and an extra for your neighbor who can’t pick apples anymore. And most of all, try to remember to take joy in the little things and laugh right out loud.

Happy gardening.

Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 25 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Botanical Gardens offers bountiful ideas

 If you haven’t visited the Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor yet, you really should. It is absolutely lovely and just filled with wonderful ideas for your own gardens. We went down for the annual fairy festival with my granddaughter, Nola, leading the way on her favorite subject – fairies. The creativity in some of the planting combinations is really inspiring and can lead to many ideas for your gardens. Obviously, at the Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens there is much more room and more hands for gardening, but there are great ideas there, nonetheless.

Get rid of those pesticides — for free

If you have pesticides in your garage or basement, now is your chance to deal with them in an environmentally safe way – at no cost to you. Please be a responsible and green citizen and read the following announcement:

This fall, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control will designate four sites statewide for the free disposal of banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen or otherwise unusable.

We urge people holding these chemicals to contact us immediately to register,” said Paul Schlein, BPC public information officer, in a prepared statement.

The collected chemicals will go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency where they’ll be incinerated or reprocessed.

“While offering free obsolete pesticide disposal is expensive for us,” said Schlein, “it’s a bargain, compared to the cost of cleaning up contaminated soil or water. However, it’s worth noting that future funding is not guaranteed, so be sure to take advantage of this year’s collection while you can.”

Preregistration is required by Sept. 25. To register, find out collection dates and locations, or get information on the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at, or call the BPC at 287-2731.

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