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The fall season has arrived and so have the cool, or downright cold, night temperatures that go with it. The garden has not only past its peak but mostly “petered out” with relatively little left in the garden. Though you may feel inclined to clear or burn the garden and till the soil in preparation for winter snow, I encourage you to wait. There may be a treasure to be snatched from it first, if you dare engage in the adventure of seed collecting.
If you have grown plants that are a heirloom variety or at least are a variety that is not a hybrid or GMO, then you can collect the seed and, if handled, stored, and planted properly, expect the seed to grow the same kind of plant and to produce the same type of leaves, flowers, and fruit/vegetables as the plant from which the seed came. Now, I know, there are a lot of “ifs” in that previous statement. I will try to deal with those in the following article to increase your success. There is some skill required, but there is an enormous reward, in my opinion. Not only does a seed collector save money by not having to purchase new seed each season, but they also gain confidence in their inventory of seed for the next growing season and their knowledge of how to procure more seed for the future no matter what circumstances they face.
An experienced seed collector could venture into any garden, even in the spring thaw, and find a great deal of seed that they could take with them to plant elsewhere for their family’s sustenance and/or for barter. After being left out in the winter weather, the germination rate of these seeds may be reduced for some plants, but there will be some viable seeds. Many seeds require a freeze in order to germinate later in the garden. Seed collecting is not difficult, and it is something that children can help with. Make it a treasure-hunting adventure, but know that it has it down side, too.