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Collecting seeds

  1. Collect ripe seed on a dry day, as soon as the seedheads (e.g. capsules or pods) ripen. This is often indicated by a colour change from green to brown, black or red but before they open and shed their contents
  2. Pick the seedheads, either singly or on stalks, and lay them out to dry on a greenhouse bench, warm windowsill or in an airing cupboard. This enables seed to be more easily extracted from pods, cones or capsules
  3. If they don’t open when dry, gently crush pods and capsules to release the seed
  4. Collect seed from fleshy fruits and berries by mashing them in a fine sieve and then rinsing away the pulp in cold water. Leave the seed to dry for a few days on paper towels
  5. Exploding seedheads need checking every few days. Place a bag over them and shake – this will usually cause the ripe seedheads to explode into the bag. Alternatively, remove the seedheads on their stems as they turn brown and place in a labelled paper bag
  6. Nuts should be collected around the time they would naturally fall either by hand-picking or by placing a sheet at the base of the tree and shaking the branches until they fall
  7. After extracting the seed, clean off any surrounding material (chaff) attached to them, as this material could rot and lead to the seed damping off. Chaff can harbour moulds, pests and diseases