I have written so many times about the joys, the necessities, the history and many more topics relating to seeds. I don’t think I have ever before written about the chaos of my own seeds! I have a cupboard devoted to seeds and a fine filing system for keeping them in order. I have another shelf for seeds that are drying and nice little bags and vials for storing them in, once dry. I have a wonderful garden that always has a few of my favourite vegetables going to seed. I have everything a seedsaver could want! So why are my seeds a mess and why am I constantly stressed about it?
The short answer is that seeds do not magically move from plant to filing cupboard. It happens more like this: I see that one or more plants has grown tall and lanky, has finished flowering and it is growing a wonderful crop of green seeds. The seeds get heavier and heavier as they grow. Everyday I think to myself I must go and tie it up to a stake so it does not flop over its neighbours. Everyone else’s gardens are so tidy but I seem to have a constant stream of plants adorned with magnificent seeds that make me smile but make others see only chaos. One day I do tie them up with brightly coloured, hay bale twine….. everyone else seems to have eco-friendly, designer twine and home made stakes!
It looks like rain. I must collect those seeds now, before the downpour. In the middle of getting the washing off the line I rush to the door, grab the nearest container and the secateurs, and in a few minutes I have removed the branches of seeds and plonked the whole thing into the bucket. Then I return to taking the rest of the washing off the line.
Weeks later the stems and seeds are still in the bucket but hey, it is all dry and all is good. Sometimes I even remember to label the seeds and include the collection date! Hmmmm…. sometimes I don’t but I am pretty good at recognising seeds, except when they are identical, like kale vs broccoli or one lettuce vs another.
One day I put something on top of the bucket that is home to the stems and seeds. Big mistake; out of sight, out of mind. Months go by and it is seed sowing time again and I was sure I had collected the seeds but they are illusive! Well, actually it doesn’t matter because hey, they have self-sown themselves into the garden anyway. Nice.
Then I start saving tomato seeds on paper towel and capsicum seeds into little cups. The whole kitchen becomes a seed drying zone. I want to eat lunch so do not always label the paper towel of tomato seeds I removed before turning the tomato into a salad. Same with the capsicum seeds.
Can you get the idea?
I look into my lovely seed cupboard and try to find space for a stack of paper towels dotted with dry tomato seeds. No room on the right shelf so I put the stack on the shelf below. Bad idea but I cannot sort it out now! Months and years go by….. until now.
I have spent all day today and half of yesterday spreading out ALL (nearly) my seeds and boxes and buckets and paper towels and cups and packets and containers and little, illegible notes all over my lounge room floor. I am exhausted but I have done it; I have 3 perfect shelves of orderly seeds, all sorted by sowing season again. And I have a bucket almost full of mixed everything seeds; some too old, some too voluminous, some of vegetables I don’t even like eating, which I am going to toss into the garden to fight it out amongst themselves. I also have a box of seeds to take to the seed swap in a week or 2, all neat and labelled but maybe not winnowed perfectly. I do so hope others won’t mind and that they enjoy the bounty.
What about that bucket of purple sprouting broccoli branches that was in my bedroom? Oh no, I just can’t do any more. It will be ok. I will label it in the morning!!