Here’s How You Can Improve Your Own Garden Plants
Select Your Own Flowers and Vegetables To Save
I wanted to make a few points about plant selection in your own garden. This is not only for a few advanced gardeners but rather, it’s for every gardener out there.
I want you to imagine you have Aquilegia in your garden. This is a self-sowing sweetheart that … well, let’s just say it’s promiscuous and self-sows everywhere it can. And like all flowers, there are a few really good blooms that emerge from the seeds and a few duds
When I see a dud (a flower I don’t like) in my garden, I dig it up, weed it out immediately. I don’t allow it to set seed and give me even more duds. I only allow the plants I want to mature and set seed
And yes, I’ve watched garden visitors have mini panic attacks when they see me yank an offending plant. But it’s either a good plant I want in my garden or it’s gone.
This small Aquilegia (Columbine) above is a perfect kind of plant for collecting and saving seed. They’ll cross breed quickly and easily and you’ll never know what colour or size you’ll get. (And yes, it does make it rather interesting if you’re trying to keep the plant and its offspring without any crossbreeding.)
This is true for all plants. Mayo (my better half and an heirloom seed expert) has been selecting some of the tomatoes we grow for earliness as well as the more traditional characteristics of the variety. Over a few years, we’ll have a somewhat earlier strain of these plants.
The nice part of this is we get to both save the seeds and eat the tomatoes.
The original ‘Mortgage Lifter’ tomato is a lovely red tomato. (Note, I haven’t checked any genetics on this plant — it was given to us under this name from a seed exchange.)
Better Flowers Too
Think of all the self-sowing plants you might have (hollyhocks, lupines, digitalis, etc) and then start doing the same thing.
- Pick the colors you really like, allow those to set seed.
- Dig out the others as soon as you decide you don’t like them. Or cut off the flower stalks as soon as the flowers start to fade/wither so they can’t set seed.
- Over the years, more and more you’ll get the color of plant you really like.
Note: You Can’t Save Seeds From Hybrid Plants And Get A Better Plant
Hybrid plants do produce seed but that seed will not ‘come true’ and give you another plant that resembles the mother plant.
You can save the seed but you’ll simply get different looking plants. Some might be better than the mother, but the odds are the majority will be lesser quality plants.
The news here is there’s little point in saving seed from those fancy plants you lust over in the garden centre. But if you’re like most gardeners, you’ll just have to try anyway.
In My Own Garden
The picture above is volunteer maple seedlings in one of my flower beds
It’s red before any of the other seedlings. I’m saving some of them as well because I want some more maples around the property but this one was given special treatment and planted into my micro-nursery bed.
But just because it’s red before the others doesn’t make it a great tree. It may not repeat this performance next year. It may be a really slow grower or .. well, it could have a lot of things wrong with it.
But for now, it turned red first, well before the others and this might make it special in the garden
And it’s the “mights” that gardeners get to dream on. 🙂
(Update on the seedling — it was eaten by voles in winter ’19. It was a nice try but… Sigh.)
Pick some of your own plants — you’ll never know what you’ll get unless you try.
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