EEE! Better Save It for Later
So there I was, enjoying a delightful September afternoon by relocating more strawberries in the front yard. (See more about my strawberry related ambitions here) The chickens were enjoying a romp around the yard. Bumble bees buzzed around my still-blooming mint plants. Then a mosquito bit me and I remembered- Massachusetts is in the middle of a Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) watch. Yes, EEE is rare, but there have been multiple human patients confirmed in this county. I am “that person” who gets peppered with bites while everyone else gets one or two. I am not a gambler.
I quickly watered the strawberries I had moved, ushered the chickens back to their run, and put my tools away. Before booking it into the house for the evening, I quickly dead-headed a few of my zinnias.
As I mentioned during the planting stages of the 2019 Food It yourself garden, I bought zinnia seeds on a whim from my local dollar store. I was hoping they would round out my newly-constructed front yard bed of bee-balm. After all, the zinnias I’ve seen top out at twelve inches high, give or take. They would look good in front of the 3-4 foot tall bee balm stems. Not only did the zinnias bloom in a delightful assortment of colors, but some are now taller than the bee balm. The picture to the left is from mid July. I would have gotten a more current picture, but peak mosquito time was fast approaching, so I was itching to get inside; pun intended.
I want those spent flower heads because in a front-yard garden, visible to the neighborhood, having a little pretty in with the practical is a good idea. Best of all, zinnia seeds are very, very east to save. Just break up the dried-out flower and there is one seed at the base of each petal. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry, dark place, and they will be ready to hit the dirt come spring time.
I kept the different colors separated. I am still waiting for a yellow flower to dry out. I certainly have enough seeds to keep my unconventional lawn looking sharp, but I want to have extras to share, so I will probably continue collecting until I run out of containers.
While exploring resources about collecting and storing seeds (see below) I came across a fact that I had forgotten. The second generation of zinnias might not look like the first. There is a good chance the flowers were cross-pollinated color to color. Separating the seeds may have been irrelevant. On the other hand I am extra excited to see what will come up next summer.
Want to try your hand at saving the best things from your garden? Check out these resources:
- Of course The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a page on seed saving.
- Seed Savers Exchange has excellent advice also.
- The Spruce has instructions specifically for saving zinnia seeds.
I usually think of myself as someone who grows yummy things, not pretty things. Since I have made the choice to have visible planted beds, however, I need to think about the pretty at least a little. I was quite impressed with the super thrifty zinnias I grew this year, and I hope next year I will have just as much luck growing generation II. Are you saving any seeds this year? Have you done so in the past? Share in the comments section!