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Going to Seed

'Out to pasture', 'Gone to the Dogs', 'Going to seed' all evoke the notion that the end is near or that the best is in the past. Plants produce seed often at the end of the growing season. Fall is a time for seeds with many shapes and forms. A Life Cycle is not linear but circular, as the phrase indicates. Although the production of seeds may be the final achievement of a growing season it is also the beginning of the next.

On October 1st I joined the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association (ONAPA) at Guy Denny's Prairie in Fredicktown for a seed harvest. We were greeted with an informative introduction to some of the featured plants and harvesting techniques. Some attendees carried large bags or specialized packs that permit two-handed picking. I came away with about twenty species of native, Ohio sourced flowering plant seed. I have about ten more species just from my own modest home gardens. Most of these will be used in projects directly as seed but some will be sown for seedlings to transplant out later next year.

Processing seed is an intimate endeavor that can be tedious when many small capsules need individual handling. Even the larger seeds often present challenges when fluff and chaff needs to be removed. It is, however, a marvel of nature to experience the variety of seeds that are presented. Each coming from unique flowers, produced with the aide of many and varied pollinators with behaviors and methods fine tuned over millions of years. Each one a survivor of predation, disease, scarcity and a dynamic environment. a dynamic environment.


Processing seed is an intimate endeavor that can be tedious when many small capsules need individual handling. Even the larger seeds often present challenges when fluff and chaff needs to be removed. It is, however, a marvel of nature to experience the variety of seeds that are presented. Each coming from unique flowers, produced with the aide of many and varied pollinators with behaviors and methods fine tuned over millions of years. Each one a survivor of predation, disease, scarcity and a dynamic environment.


If you are going to do this yourself there are some things to consider:

  • know the specific name of your plant

  • be sure the seed is ripe and present

  • separate seed from other plant parts

  • allow seed to dry

  • keep seed cool, not frozen

For details on seed saving and storage READ FURTHER.



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