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How To: Save Your Seeds

10/6/2010 12:55:02 PM

Tags: Patsy Bell Hobson, Seeds, Saving Seeds, How To, Tips, My Garden, Marigolds

PBHobson2Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it's a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at and read her travel writings at 

If you're a beginning gardener looking for a plant to grow that you also can save seeds from, marigolds are a good choice. 

Collect seed from different marigolds for a good variety.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Why should I save seed? It's free! Collecting seeds from your own flowers is practical and economical. Seed savers learn more about their plants and build their gardening skills. *Note: Hybrid varieties are bred from two distinct parent plants. Seeds saved from hybrids may not produce plants exactly like the one you bought. 

What should I save? If you grow some tasty or outstanding plants, you can save the seed from your best fruits and flowers. Collecting the best seed from the best plants year after year will create plants that are ideal for your soil and zone.

Where should I store seed? Make sure the seed is cool and dry then store it in an envelope or a ziplock bag; label and date the packet. If you learned a helpful growing technique, write it down. Make notes about growing the seed and put it inside the envelope. Trust me, you should write down the name of the seeds, the date and any details or tips.

Try saving seed from a few of your garden favorites this year. The number of seeds sold in the seed catalogs decreases every year. Saving seed may save that particular variety from extinction.

There would be no garden without pollinators like the Buckeye butterfly.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Marigolds, including the little bright yellow single flowered Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida), are an easy first seed to identify and save. These flowers look like mini marigolds.

Pinch off the dried flower buds of the marigold. Roll the dried flower buds in your palm to break them open and reveal the seeds. Marigold seeds look like little needles with one end dark and the other end lightly colored.

I save seed every year from a white cucumber my grandmother always grew. Those seed are a connection to my past and a way of saving a mild white cucumber that is very hard to find.

Planting seed, growing and enjoying your herbs and then, finally, collecting the seed for planting again, completes a life cycle. And that is both empowering and humbling.

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