Believe it or not, it’s time to start seed collecting. Collection requires observation and timing, seed must ripe to be viable, but if we wait too long they’ll be eaten or scattered
Seeds have to maintain the population and feed wildlife so how much should be collected? A good rule is to always collect less than 10% of any population and never collect seeds from plants that number fewer than 10 in a population in a given area. In the US, it’s against the law under the Endangered Species Act to collect from protected or endangered species.
Be sure you know what the seeds and seed pods you want look like. Do your research before you go collecting. Keep in mind that not all plants reproduce successfully from seed! Again, a little research on your part will go a long way to ensure your success.
Always ask permission before collecting on private land and check local regulations before collecting along roadsides. If you do collect along the road, wear brightly colored clothing or a safety vest. You can purchase one for just a few dollars and it will last your lifetime, which it will help to prolong. As an additional safety measure don’t go seed collecting on your own, take along a friend.
Store your collected seeds in a paper bag or envelope until they’re completely cleaned and dried. Don’t use plastic bags. Remember to label them with the species, the collection date and location. After cleaning and drying, store the seeds in labeled glass jars in a dry, cool, dark place, but not the freezer. Since labels on the outside of containers can get ruined, write the collection info on a slip of paper and put it inside the jar with the seeds as a backup. You can also store dry seed in plastic bags but be sure rodents won’t find them.
Posted by Sylvia Hacker, Dona Ana Co. New Mexico Master Gardener