I have very fond memories of my dad spending the day with us on little projects around the house when we were growing up. It sounds so suburban-middle class, but that's what we were. I keep those lessons with me everyday. He would paint with us and teach us perspective; we would mow the lawn and he'd tell us about yard maintenance. One day, I remember it was just me and my Poppie. He told me about the California Golden Poppy. It was our state flower and he loved having them all over our yard!
This day, he had cut some of the flowers and was working with them over the dining room table. He had a plate with tiny black dots all over it. He was harvesting the seeds. I don't remember much of the lesson verbatim, but I can still remember the feeling of stretching across the table with my knees in my dinner chair. Stretching to see what he was doing with these tiny, little seeds. I remember him putting a clear glass bowl over the lot of seeds and telling me that they were going to POP! And that would be our next poppy flower.
This memory is why I call him Poppie today and one day my children will do the same. And when they ask why, I will tell them this story.
Fast forward to many, many years later, my cousin Katie starts up her own seed business. She is crafty, money smart and LOVES to garden. Last time we were in Michigan visiting, she had everyone, including our aunt, sitting on the floor over newspaper separating seeds from the dead heads of plants. She explained how she separated them, packaged them, labeled them and sold them at the farmer's market and on-line. She is crazy-imaginative and so meticulous.
In our garden this year, we have new tomato plants next to plants that re-sprouted from last year! We have some of cousin Katie's seeds and some plants we got from the local farmer's market. This year we started off with Bibb lettuce and a red Romain. We ate off the lettuce for a good month or so before it bolted. ARRRG! I tried different tricks to keep it from bolting so early but I just couldn't keep up with the growth. So, I pulled some plants to make way for new vegetables but I left some of the bolted lettuce to see if I could get seeds from them- Like cousin Katie does. ;)
After weeks of this over-grown lettuce, I saw flowers come and go and today noticed little tufts of fluff on the end of the old flowers. After searching the trusty Internet, I found out it was time to harvest the seeds.
I pulled the fluffy heads and collected them in a small dish. I brought them inside and, like my dad, I sat at the dining room table to separate the seeds from the rest of the plant. What a great haul!
I, of course, planted some right away in plastic cups and brought them inside to water and start growing. I labeled the rest of the seeds to plant later in the year or even next spring!
I'll be charting the progress to see how long it takes to germinate and harvest. I can't believe Katie does all this with TONS of plants!!
UPDATE: After a week or so of watering, I found only one sprout in my seven cups. I did some more research and it looks like lettuce seeds need a cold snap to become viable. So, I threw my other seeds in the fridge. We'll see what happens. ;)