My wife has just pointed out to me that the above heading could be misconstrued as having “adult content”; I replied “Honi soit qui mal y pense”. She then accused me of swearing at her in French. When I told her it was the motto of the Order of the Garter she told me not to be disgusting.
Anyway, now is the time to harvest seed from your various flowers and then you can have free plants next year. I will tell you about the Melon later, but I’m fuming.
10th August: Things I have been doing lately
🥝 Harvest seed. You will of course remember that I told you all a few months ago to mark the best flower blooms with a piece of tape so that when you came to deadheading you would not cut these off. You have to do this with the pick of the first blooms as they are the biggest and best; the tendency is that as you deadhead the blooms get smaller and smaller. Anyway, hands up those who did? the rest of you have just lost lots of free plants unless of course you have a time machine and can go back a few months and mark the flowers with tape. As far as I know Dr Who doesn’t read this blog. Those of you who did mark your best flowers take a house point, those of you who didn’t stop mumbling about how busy you have been.
Today I have been harvesting seeds from Marigolds, Pink Trumpet and Marguerites. Each of these have slightly different techniques. But there is something that is common to all seed gathering that you must adhere to or the seed will fail. Make sure your chosen blooms have fully completed their seed cycle: they must be brown and completely dry.
Marigolds. Those of you who follow this blog will know that I love Marigolds as they are easy to propagate, love sun and love Spain. There are four stages to harvesting Marigold seeds.
1. Cut off the blooms that you have previously marked with tape; all of you idiots who failed to mark your best blooms, just pick the best of the rest (see first photo below).
2. Clean the flower head up by removing the stem and gently peeling away what is left of the dried petals around the top (see second photo below).
3. Pick up the now cleaned seed head and gently roll it between your thumb and forefinger. As you roll press gently on the seed head and gradually the seeds will spill out to be captured in your waiting hand. (see third photo below).
4. Place the seeds in a clean new envelope and mark it “Marigolds 2017”. The year is important as you should always use your freshest seed first. (see fourth photo below).
Pink Trumpet. This is a lovely fast growing climber that is very popular in Spain. Again you follow a four stage process to harvest the seeds.
1. First identify seed pods that are ripe. Pink trumpet seeds are developed in long pod cases that hang from the plant. These can vary in length from 20cm to over 50cm and make a very pretty addition to the plant at this time of year. The first photo below shows a ripe seed pod hanging on the plant. Again, like the Marigolds, they need to be brown and completely dry.
2. Cut off the pods and carefully inspect them to ensure there are no splits in case the seed has already gone. (see second photo below).
3. Carefully split the pods open and ease out the seeds and let them fall into your other hand. Be careful if it is a windy day as each seed has a little wing to enable it to be blown along in the wind; you may end up splitting the pod and they all take off. (See third photo below).
4. Place the seeds in a clean new envelope and again mark it with the year and the plant. (See fourth photo below).
Margeurites. A lovely daisy plant that is not only a Spring stalwart, but if cut back will have successful further flushes of flower. There are two ways to propagate Margeurites, you can leave the seed heads on the plant and it will self seed with lots of little seedlings in the late Autumn. Or, you can take the seeds and propagate them yourself. I use both methods. However, if you want to grow them yourself, again it is a four stage process:
1. First identify seed pods that are ripe. This is a bit more difficult than with the other two we have looked at so far. Marguerite seed pods are small and can look as if they have seeds, when in fact they have already gone. A tell tale sign of no seeds is if the seed head looks like a flat star. This means the pod has flung itself open and scattered its seeds. So in effect you need to do the opposite of all those television programmes with would be entertainers – “Don’t search for a star”. Having found nice dry seed heads cut them off, but be careful as the seeds are small and they can easily fall off as you move them. See first photo below.
2. Now, in a different way to the other two seeds we have looked at, you need to pinch the bunch of seeds out from the pod as a single lump. See second photo below.
3. Then in a similar way to the other seeds, roll the seeds between your thumb and forefinger and catch them as they fall into your other hand. In this case you are not separating the seeds from the seed pod as you have already taken them out, but because the seeds are so small you will get certain amounts of plant debris coming with them. The best way to separate the seeds from the rubbish is to drop the seeds from palm to palm and hopefully the wind will blow away the rubbish and leave you with the seeds; or possibly nothing if it’s too windy. See third photo below).
4. The final stage like the others is to place the seeds in a clean new envelope and mark it with the year and the plant. See fourth photo below.
🐜 The bloody ants have eaten my melons. I know they are all God’s creatures and as a Christian I should be forgiving. But they have literally spoiled all my Melons, I only have four left that have not been overrun. I wouldn’t mind if when I came out each morning to inspect the Melons all I found was a Melon core surrounded by big fat bellied ants burping and so fat they could not run away. Instead, they find the smallest possible crack in the Melon skin, then pour into about the depth of a centimetre and eat the tiniest bit of Melon but manage to spoil the rest. I have been speaking to someone in Tennessee on the internet about this. Tennessee is big on cantaloupe as they say. My new friend Hank or Tex or something like that, reckons cut the melons off just before they are fully mature and before the stem starts to separate. Then place them in a brown paper bag with a banana which will help them mature. I will try this and let you know what happens. It will probably just be a take-away lunch for ants with added banana. See photo below of the ant Melon party.