Friday, September 2, 2011

Gardening 101: How to collect seeds from Arugula and Lettuce

One of the best ways to make sure that you enjoy your vegetables for years to come is collecting and saving the seeds from your own garden. It is also cheaper too!!

I tried to collect the seeds from every one of my vegetables - I always wait until it is almost the end of the season for a particular plant to take the seeds, as many plants will stop bearing fruits if you let them go to seed.

In this post I will show you how to collect the seeds from arugula and lettuces as they are done for their first season (I am planting a second crop for the fall!)

The first thing to do is to choose a couple of plants to be your seed's bearer. You will let these plants go to flower (or bolt) in mid season. You can continue to harvest arugula and lettuce leaves from the other ones.

One they flower, you will keep monitoring it until the flowers dry and little pods from on each one.

Arugula:

Arugula flowers are small and white, and when they dry they  turn into a pod. Wait until the pods are dry (at this stage the whole plant will be pretty dry too!). Carefully, cut the pods and put them in a container. I recommend you use scissors, that way you will not lose any seeds as the pods are fragile and will open if you manipulate them too hard.


Take your pods indoors and put them on top of a white piece of paper. Open the dry pods,one by one and you will see how the seeds fall into the paper - Arugula seeds are small, round and brown. If you have any pods that are not dry yet (they will be green and pliable). Set them aside on a sunny place for a few days until they dry.

Lettuce:



Lettuce flowers are small and yellow, and when they die they turn into green "thistle" with a white fuzz (similar to dandelions - every seed will have a white little feather like fuzz to help it fly!). Wait until these are dry (they turn brown). Carefully, cut the thistles and put them in a container. I recommend you use scissors, that way you will not lose any seeds as the thistles will open if you manipulate them too hard and the seeds will fly in the wind!



Take your thistles indoors and put them on top of a white piece of paper. One by one, hold to the white fuzz with one hand and the thistle body with the other and pull. You will see how the seeds will come out of the thistle and stay attached to the fuzz.




Remove the fuzz and let the seeds fall into the paper - Lettuce seeds are small, oval and grayish. If you have any thistles that are not dry yet (they will be green and pliable). Set them aside on a sunny place for a few days until they dry.

Put your seeds in an paper envelope and label them with the name of the plant and the year - if you keep them in a dry and ventilated place, they should last you about 3 years. Feel free to share your seeds with your friends! I have certainly do so.

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