In my post last year about Almost Free Gardening, I mentioned how easy it is to save marigold seeds to plant in the spring. Looking back at that post, I realized that more detailed instructions would be helpful. Today I'll share some photos to illustrate exactly what I look for when I'm collecting seeds to save. I know that there are other methods of marigold seed-saving (eg: collecting and drying the whole flower), but I prefer the foolproof route that I'll outline here.
First, here's a picture of a flower bud--definitely not ready for harvesting!
This guy is also not ready--still too green:
These are nice and dry and getting closer, but they're still upright, so ideally I'll wait a little longer:
I like to wait until the little flower heads are completely dry and bending over--ready to aim their seeds at the ground. When you see them bent over like this, (whether they are open at the end like those in the photo below or closed so that they look like tiny beige ears of corn) they are ready to be snapped off.
If you gently roll the dry flower head between your thumb and finger, the shell will come off revealing...seeds!!!
Now all you have to do is wait until spring to plant them! I recommend saving the seeds in an envelope rather than a jar; I've learned the hard way that jars can seal in moisture and cause mold to grow. All of the marigolds that you see in these photos (including the three foot wide bush in the photo at the beginning of this post) grew from seeds that I collected last year (which grew from seeds collected the previous year). Happy gardening!
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