Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Fall Hunting & Gathering

Harvesting Seeds, Garden Dilemmas ask Mary Stone

Hello Fellow Readers,

A few weeks ago we spoke about fall tasks and one is to take advantage of the great season to plant. What should he plant asked Harry from Hardwick. By and large anything that’s available and fits into your landscape plan and cultural environment – with some exceptions.  If there are crispy critters in the nursery stay clear and ornamental grasses are finicky fall adapters even if they aren’t crispy.

Resist the urge to buy just because it’s a bargain. Just like clothes shopping, ask yourself does it work in your wardrobe and lifestyle? If not, ‘skippy’. Nothing worse than a mismatched wardrobe or garden hodgepodge. Well there are worse things, but hodgepodge and mumbo-jumbo are things you have control over.

It’s okay to try a perennial to see how it does before adding more and one specimen tree or shrub well-placed makes for good design. But one of this and two of that when it comes to perennials, shrubs and groundcovers will lead to a mishmash of odds and ends. Not pretty.

Jan from Bangor asked for suggestions on harvesting seeds. Collecting annual and vegetable seeds can save lots of money and there’s something gratifying about continuing the legacy. More patience is required when it comes to growing perennials from seed and many reproduce much faster by division.

Several perennial seeds, called cold germinators, require stratification – essentially a process simulating winter to break dormancy. I simply keep my collected seeds in an unheated potting shed. Another method is to sow seeds in late fall in pots and leave in a cold frame. Others store seeds in the refrigerator typically for 3-4 months. Just don’t confuse them for a salad topping.

Let seeds ripen on the plants until they’re almost ready to scatter on their own. If harvested too early they will not be viable. Collect when they’re completely dry and remove as much of the chaff and other vegetable material as possible before storing to avoid rot or disease. Storing seeds in paper bags works well but be sure to label as you go so next year you don’t end up sowing a muddle of hodgepodge, mishmash or mumbo-jumbo.

Garden dilemmas? askmarystone@gmail.com

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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