Month

July 2016

Saving Those Wonderful Nasturtium Seeds

I just love nasturtiums… really, I do. They are bright and happy in every way a flower can be.  I buy a new batch of assorted varieties every year. They’re big and wonderful and colorful – what more could you want? If you’re like me, these blooms are probably somewhere in your garden. Their only drawback is that they are annuals – they bloom during one season per year, and then don’t come back the following year like a perennial does. But – you can change that. Have you ever thought of saving seeds? I never really did, until I came across a new variety of nasturtium… and couldn’t find seeds for it.

I plant nasturtiums each and every year, and look forward to both the blooms and the foliage. I always plant the Alaska Mix variety, because I think the mottled leaves are so pretty, and well… my dad lives in Alaska. But this year, I added another variety to the mix, after wandering around my local plant nursery one weekend. I ran across a FlameThrower nasturtium. This variety has uniquely-shaped split-petal flowers – it’s an old heirloom variety that seems to be gaining in popularity. They come in 8 colors, but I fell in love with the deep, rich Burgundy FlameThrowers. I always start them from seed, but I couldn’t find them in my local stores or online – only via wholesale. So, I purchased a few of the nursery plants and put them in the dirt that very evening. A few weeks later, I was sitting out on my porch swing drinking my morning coffee (and those spectacular FlameThrower blooms), and started wondering about seeds for next year. Honestly, I just don’t like buying new nasturtium plants each year, and like I discovered earlier, I cannot find them online. Hmmmm…. why have I never thought to just save the seeds?

So that’s what I did. I saved my own seeds, and now I don’t have to buy any nasturtium seeds next year. I thought you might like to do the same! You’ll find directions and photos below, and I’m sure you’ll kick yourself for not doing this earlier (I did)!

DIRECTIONS for Gathering & Drying Nasturtium Seeds:
Nasturtium seeds are very easy to gather, but you need to exercise patience! Often they are laying right out on the soil beneath a spent bloom, sometimes fresh and green… other times brown and rough. If you just can’t force yourself to wait until they fall off the plant, you can remove them. Just remember – you need to let them develop. Only remove them from the plant when they have become quite large and it looks as if they’re ready to fall off on their own.

Each pod will begin with 3 seeds (see photos below), but 95% of the time only 2 will develop. If you remove the seed pod from the plant before they’re done growing and developing, there’s a good chance they may not germinate next year.

Nasturtium Seed 3

Nasturtium Seed 2

Place the seeds on a tray in a warm, dry, well-ventilated room. Allow them to dry until the seeds turn hard, brown and wrinkled. You’ll want to give the tray or plate a good shake each day so the seeds dry evenly. This could take up to two weeks, so just be patient and don’t rush the process. When the seeds are completely brown and shriveled, they’re ready to store (if seeds till have any green at all when you store them, they may later develop mold or mildew). Below is a photo of seeds in various stages of drying. They begin smooth and green, and when they become hard, brown, and wrinkled you know they’re done.

Nasturtium Seed Drying

Place the dry nasturtium seeds in a glass jar or other airtight container, and label clearly. Try to avoid storing in plastic, as it doesn’t allow for good air circulation.

NOTE ON MOISTURE: It is best to include a moisture remover in your seed storage container. You can use an old silica gel pack, or make your own little pack with some powdered milk. These packs prevent moisture from hanging around your harvested seeds. Long-term moisture will cause any seed to rot.

Save those seeds! This skill is something that seemed to come naturally to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, but somehow was lost by the time it hit most of my generation. Let’s bring it back – and become a little more self-sufficient in the process!