Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cost-Ineffective Saving for a Sunny Day

Cost Ineffective
Sunflower Seed Saving on a Sunny Day
Ensuring That Sunflowers
Keep Shining in My Garden

“No way is this cost effective,” I said as I sat on the concrete tugging seeds from a spent sunflower bloom. It’s hard to free the seeds from their covering when the blossom isn’t completely dried, so I pried, pulled, and plugged away at my self-imposed chore.
Sunflowers grow throughout much of the year where I live. The season's first crop had wilted flowers bursting with seeds. My Florida gardening book advised that it’s now a good time to plant sunflowers and I want more—without spending any more, that is. I clipped the flower heads and sat in the shaded doorway and began separating the seeds from the flower head.

It wasn't easy to remove these seeds from their "home" in the spent bloom.
As I sat, I noted I could buy a pack of seeds for less than $2 and have them in the ground long before I would finish plucking them from their home in the flower head's caverns. I then wondered if I really had to be cost-effective in this situation. I could have been inside baking a week’s worth of bread or cooking brown rice to add to meals for the next several days. I could be planting something edible from the other seeds I already own. I could be checking the fridge for whatever would be compost in a few days if I didn’t cook it first. I even could have gone to my desk and put in a few weekend hours.

Picking the seeds for my next batch of sunflowers was satisfying, gratifying. 
But none of those options were appealing. I was seated on still-cool concrete, and although it wasn’t cushy like my favorite armchair, I wasn’t uncomfortable. The shade blocked the sun’s rays as they got higher and hotter. As mundane as it seemed, gathering the seeds was gratifying, even if it didn’t “save” much in the money department.

It’s Not Always About the Money

It’s not always about the money. While I picked the seeds, I planned when and where I would plant them. I imagined watering them, watching them germinate, and then seeing them grow. I looked toward the garden and saw what these will look like when they flower. I calculated the number of days until I’ll see the new blooms. To continue the cycle, I also imagined that sometime in three months or so, I’ll be cutting flower heads, drying them, and gathering more seeds. Late July will be too hot to start a new batch, but September might be a good time to sow even more seeds. And the cycle shall continue.
Generations ago, seed gathering and seed saving were cost-effective (and the effort still is in many cases today). Seed saving guaranteed food for the next year’s planting and harvest. Seeds were passed down from generation to generation. Some seed banks still exist to ensure the existence of many heirloom flowers and vegetables and other plants.

I saved the bachelor button seeds this year
to ensure I'll have these beautiful blue blooms
again next spring. 
This young sunflower is from saved seeds.
My generic sunflower seeds won’t be part of any generational hand-off of seeds, but I shall continue gathering my own generations nonetheless. Seed packets cost only a few dollars, but I know it’s not always about the money.

* * * * *

SeedsaversExchange is well known for their efforts at keeping heirloom seeds in the growing community. They can be reached here:
A Google search on “gathering seeds from your garden” nets thousands of sites where you can learn about saving your own seeds and getting your own generations going.

Bachelor button, sunflower, zinnia, and nasturtium seeds
(clockwise from left to right) for future planting

Miniature zinnias from saved seeds

Next year's blooms are tucked away in the
nasturtium seeds I've saved.

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