A derogatory term for sure…except if you’re a gardener.  I’m talking about saving seeds from the flowers, herbs, or vegetables you grow this year so you can plant them again next year.  I’ve been doing this for a long time now, ever since I started my first vegetable garden up in Maine.  Some people call these heirloom seeds and have even made a business of collecting them and selling them.  Me, I do it for my own enjoyment…and to save a little money, of course.

If you garden, harvesting seeds is one of the few good things about fall.  Don’t get me wrong, I love fall but I hate seeing my garden die; the vibrant green of summer fading away and finally changing into the dull brown of winter.  One of the ways I get through that time of year is to gather the dying flowers, dry them, and then harvest the seeds.  And all the while I’m dreaming of those inconspicuous little flecks burrowing into a warm ground, drinking in the moisture from the spring rains, and swelling until the new plant pops free and unfurls its tiny green leaves.

marigoldsEver since I planted my first vegetable garden up in Maine, I’ve  planted a row of marigolds along the garden fence.  That first year, I bought a packet of seeds for ten cents at Walmart and every fall I dried a few of the blooms and kept the seed over the winter until I could plant them in the spring.  So for the meager investment of a dime, I’ve had years of beauty and pleasure.

This year, after two years of not being able to plant a garden because I was living in an apartment, I planted seed I’d saved from my last garden in Maine.  I wasn’t sure they would germinate and if they did, if they would produce flowers but they did.  I had masses of gorgeous marigolds along one side of my garden fence.  So now I’m back to gathering seed for next year’s garden.  And I’ve branched out this year…I’m also saving seed from the zinnias and the four o’clocks I planted.  Total cost of the seeds?  $1.20. 

4o'clocksFour o’clocks are an amazing flower that blooms in a wide range of bright colors.  The blooms stay closed during the day but open in late afternoon, hence the name, and they have a scent to rival the best-smelling old-fashioned roses of your grandmother’s garden.  The vivid colors and trumpet shaped blooms also attract hummingbirds.

zinniasAs for zinnias, they’re super easy to grow and they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.  The ones I planted this year are called Lilliput, a dwarf variety that isn’t dwarf on the flowers they produced.  They’re great for cut flower arrangements and my favorite thing–zinnias always make me smile when I see their happy blooms.  It’s as simple as that.  Of course, most flowers make me smile, but zinnias were the first flowers I ever grew from seed and like marigolds, they’re incredibly easy to grow, even for a novice gardener.

Hopefully the four 0’clock and zinnia seeds I’ve saved will do as well as the marigold seeds, but I guess only time will tell.   Meanwhile, I’ll be dreaming of next year’s garden and anticipating the joy they might bring.

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