Collecting Annual and Biennial Seeds

Nigella damascene
Nigella damascena

Whether you’re seeking seeds to gift or preserve for perpetuity, midsummer is an excellent time to note any ripening seed capsules ready for harvesting. It’s often too easy to be caught unaware when the seed capsules have dispersed their contents, leaving none to collect as insurance shall the seedlings fail to germinate the following spring. Endless rain can cause the seed crop to fail as mold can quickly destroy seed viability. The easiest, if not laziest method of harvesting involves pulling out the dried remains (stems, roots, and all) and placing them upside-down in brown paper bags. The bags should be placed someplace dry and cool, out of reach from rodents. In most cases, the seed capsules will naturally dehisce, spilling their contents into the bag with minimal fuss and cleaning.

Now is a good time (early July for those in the mid-Atlantic US region and mid to late July for those in the cooler northern areas)  to harvest the following:

Poppies (Papaver somniferum, Papaver rhoeas, Papaver commutatum), Love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena and N. hispanica), umbellifers (Angelica, Daucus carota, Orlaya grandiflora), catchfly (Silene armeria), larkspur (Consolida ajacis)

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