Last year I started saving seeds for the first time. I got the general idea of seed saving from You Grow Girl or Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail. I decided on sunflower seeds for a reason that now escapes me… I read about how to do it online and watched some videos on Youtube. You can either cut off the sunflower head and dry it or dry it on the stem. The cheese cloth is to keep birds or other critters from getting at it. I’ve also read you can use a paper bag but this must be for smaller flower heads.
I picked out the seeds from the head and dried them indoors on a hard surface. I kept them in a plastic bag all year, which is not good, but it surely didn’t affect sunflower production this year. In fact, the only difference this year is that the sunflowers were poly-headed (my scientific term), specifically with one large head and several small ones, whereas last year they were mono-headed. I still have so many sunflower seeds left that I don’t need to do it this year.
Sunflowers with one large head and many small heads
This year, I want to be more active with seed collection because it’s easy and it’s cost effective (no need to buy seeds next year). I decided to start with dill because the seeds caught my eye.
I couldn’t remember exactly how I was supposed to do it (because the books are at the library), but I do remember from Gayla’s books that you’re supposed to cut the stem below the seeds and put it upside down in a paper bag. The seeds will drop to the bottom once they’re dry. I started this last week:
Dill drying in a paper bag
To be sure I was doing it right, I searched the net and came across the Deep Roots at Home blog. What caught my eye was the suggestion to add holes to the bag for circulation! So I poked some holes in it with a safety pin. Hope that’s good enough. The blogpost also shows that you can have several stems in one bag. Right now I have 3 bags going with one stem each because I wanted to be sure they got enough air to dry properly. Totally unnecessary.
I know for sure that You Grow Girl had a template for seed packets. There are many seed packet templates online. I chose one at Carolyn’s Stamp Store because I liked the simple design and clear instructions for putting it together.
I didn’t have a glue stick so I taped it together, put my sunflower seeds in and made a simple label.
Homemade sunflower seed package
You Grow Girl suggested fancy designs but I decided to make it simple. I don’t consider myself to be crafty, but I do have crafty aspirations!
Homemade vs professional
I came across this Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook online. I love that it tells you how long you can save your seeds. For example, it says dill seeds will last 3 years or more and sunflower seeds (between squash and Swiss chard on the list; there is no direct link) will last 5 years or more if stored properly.
Can’t wait to package my dill!