September is nearly over, so I checked my “To Do” list for the month and found that I still needed to take cuttings of my Coleus and collect seeds from a few flowers.
Here are the Coleus I save from year to year:I’ve had the Coleus with the giant, multi-colored leaves for at least seven, perhaps eight years now. Its leaves are like a velvet rainbow, with perfectly formed scalloped edges:The darker one is two years old. I love its mottled foliage, which changes depending on how much light the leaves receive. The less light, the more green:This rich burgundy Coleus, on my front porch, is new to me this year:Can you blame me for wanting to save it?I cut just a few stems from each plant, trying to remove them from spots where they won’t be missed. They’re all still an integral part of my outdoor decor, after all! I clipped near a branch or leaf joint, then stripped the branch of its lower foliage, leaving just a few leaves at the top.The stripped leaves will be a fine addition to the compost bin.
A former landlady, from whom I learned much about gardening, once told me that plant stems need light to form roots. True or not (probably not, since I’ve had plants root just fine in dirt!), I always put my cuttings in clear glass jars and leave them on a windowsill, this time in my kitchen:Another plant I took cuttings from, nearly three weeks ago actually, is this Pineapple Sage:Its leaves smell like pineapple when you rub them between your fingers. I haven’t used it for anything culinary yet–not sure exactly what it would complement to be honest–but I do enjoy the scent. Susan, my favorite farm market vendor, sold it to me at the beginning of the summer, making sure to tell me what a great houseplant it is. Well, I don’t know that I have room to add such a large houseplant to my collection, so I decided to see whether its cuttings would root. And the answer is:Yes, Pineapple Sage roots quite nicely in water. It took two weeks for the roots to show up, and I began to despair, but here they are now, and I will pot up this new, little plant later this week.
I forgot to trudge up the hill to take cuttings of the Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage), but I will be sure to do that tomorrow. I really liked this plant in the lasagna garden, but it’s not winter hardy in my zone. I’m grateful to the commenter who suggested I take cuttings of it because it really hadn’t occurred to me that I could do that! (UPDATE: Did this on 9/29/14.)I also collected some seeds this afternoon, from Morning Glories, Cosmos, and Cleome. Each of these readily re-seeds itself in my garden each spring, but I like to keep some seeds, just in case. One year I had no Cosmos come back, and I think it was because we’d had very little snow cover that winter to insulate them. A few friends have asked for seeds this year, as well, so I am happy to share.
These Morning Glory seed pods are too green to harvest yet:But these, brown and dry, are ready:The dry husk slips off easily, spilling the seeds into my hand. Most of the pods contain four or five seeds:These Cleome seed pods, near the top of the plant, are not ready. They are still quite green and firm:These more yellow pods, farther down the stem and beginning to show signs of splitting open, are ready:When plucked from the plant, the ripe seed pods readily split open. There is a plethora of seeds inside each one. No wonder I pull so many seedlings out of the garden each spring!Here is a Cosmos seed pod that is not ready yet:This one is ready to drop its seeds:There’s more chaff in Cosmos seed pods than the others. I find that gently blowing across my hand sends it away, but leaves most of the seeds (dark gray) behind:(UPDATE: I’ve also decided to save some seeds from the Four O’Clocks growing in the vegetable garden. I haven’t been able to find information telling me whether the ‘Marbles’ strain is a hybrid, though, so I don’t know what the flowers will look like next year.)
Black beans and rice is a favorite winter meal in our house, so I grew a short row of black Turtle Beans as an experiment this summer. I really wasn’t sure we would have a long enough growing season for them to mature, but it seems they are nearly ready. Many of the leaves have yellowed and begun to die back, and the bean pods have fattened up and changed from green to pale purple: A few are even quite dark and pretty:Time will tell whether I’ll grow them again. Dried beans are pretty inexpensive, so it may not be worth the garden space and the effort to grow them myself.