We are getting deep into seed season. It’s time to think about harvesting some. There are few garden joys that beat growing food or flowers from seed you have saved yourself.
Note: this is not a call to stop shopping from favourite suppliers. They’ll need your help now more than almost ever before. Multiple lockdowns, let alone Brexit, are closing markets cultivated over years.
No matter how much I save it rarely affects how much seed I buy. I have little immunity to an interesting packet or to the itch to hoard more. This column is simply a call to keep your eyes alert for a perfect plant. And to sometimes let some of your crops live a fuller life.
An overwintered beetroot or chard has a beauty you’ll miss if everything’s only about eating. The same with leaving chicory to spike. Enjoy the metamorphosis. Tall shoots of astonishing flowers. Probably my favourite blue.
A small word of warning: we’ve been growing tear peas and tagetes ildkongen from saved seed for maybe 10 years and it was likely too long without renewing from an outside supply. The trademark ildkongen pure scarlet bloom developed splashes and stripes of yellow. Still beautiful, of course. But I missed the deep dark red that has returned this year with new stock from Signe Voltelen at copenhagenseeds.dk.
Tear peas are harder to source – mine were a gift from a Basque friend who is a chef in Bilbao. We will give them another go next year to be sure it was the seed and not the strange growing season. But we’ll also look to find another source.
Be careful, though, it can easily get out of hand. Kala has sacks of saved poppy, nasturtium and calendula. More than she’ll likely ever need for the rest of her life. So she makes up packets for her gardening friends. The simple rule: it’s good to save. But it’s also good to share.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com