The full moon is waning. Darkness comes earlier. The morning daylight is wonderful as we navigate the start of the day. The time to notice and gather seeds is here and there is a sense of urgency. Currently, the farmers are working with garlic seed and heeling in the delicious bulbs for a long winter’s nap. There are also plans to sow carrots, spinach and beet seeds for an early spring growth and subsequent harvest.
And, while thinking of spring, the farmers are not only separating the wheat from the chaff, but looking to plants for hope at their last stage of growth. Seeds are plentiful at this time of year. (With this warmth though and considering the hardiness of many plants, there is also great and happy harvests available in the forms of kale, arugula, chard and leeks, to name a few). But with the approaching winter and chill not far off, I am interested in locating, collecting and saving seeds.
One of the most prolific and sensory appealing seed pods is found in milkweed. The pretty monarch butterflies are attracted to this silky, soft plant, as the wispy white fluff needs just a little breeze to take flight. The brown seeds are eager to float through the air and land in a nearby bed row for possible germination next spring. The sunflower seeds are harder to find now, as the birds, chipmunks and squirrels have laid claim to snacking from the tall heads that droop downward in the November sun.
Cold, green tomatoes hold seeds which require a little rotting first, then separating and drying. I have a hard time setting aside pumpkin and winter squash seeds, as I am too busy borrowing my sister’s simple and delicious recipe for roasted, pan-fried seeds.
At the East School garden in Hingham, I pulled up an old radish from the spring, whose flowers have already bloomed, where pollination has already occurred and whose seed pods have already formed. The after school explorers and I then carefully pulled the seeds from their nest and planted them in a new garden bed. The quick-growing radish seeds have already sprouted and formed new leaves. If the weather holds, the sun shines and the rain falls, then we may yet enjoy radish in the next fortnight.
Who needs to wait for spring? I will come in earlier with the dying of the light to enjoy the seeds. The waiting will go more pleasantly as I search for more seeds, consider spring plans and hope for new growth and future harvests.
© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm