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I expect our first frost to strike tonight, so said my good-byes to most of the flowers in my gardens this afternoon.  098I’ll miss their bright, cheery colors, but we are in the late half of October now, and, for a change, I’m well prepared and ready to let them go and move on.

Strolling through the gardens in the stiff, cold breeze, I took extra cuttings of a few plants to root for next year and picked several of the loveliest, freshest blooms, such as the ‘Sedona’ hybrid tea rose below, to enjoy indoors for the next week or so:004I also collected seeds from several annuals.  Earlier this fall, I wrote about saving seeds from Cleome, Cosmos, and Morning Glories.  Today I concentrated on the marigolds and the Four o’Clocks.

Four O’Clock seeds are easy to find and harvest.  Each spent blossom develops one seed at its base.  Before they ripen, the seeds can be found inside a soft green pod.  The picture below shows a pod on the left, and a green seed on the right:033Once the seeds ripen, they turn black, and the pod burst open:021The seeds are large, between a quarter and half-inch in diameter. with on flattened end:032These are hard seeds, and will benefit from being soaked and/or nicked with a knife before sowing, as one would do to Morning Glory seeds.

Marigold seeds are harder to find.  Look for completely spent flower heads attached to dry, tan pods, like this:017Grasp the petals with one hand and the end of the pod with the other, and pull them apart.  The seeds, which grow inside the pod, beneath the petals, will either easily pull out of the pod, still attached to the petals, as you see in this picture:034or the petals will separate from the pod, leaving the seeds behind:014Just peel the pod open to reveal a neat bundle of marigold seeds:016I spread the seeds on white paper inside a shoe box lid to dry completely before I seal them in a paper envelope and store them somewhere dry and cool until early next spring.  Careful labeling is a must!041Last weekend, I harvested some edible seeds, my short, experimental row of Black Turtle Beans.  Most of the bean pods had dried and turned ecru in color, though a few turned deep purple instead:020It was easy to split the papery pods in half and push out the seeds:023A few of the pods still felt barely moist and resisted splitting.  I laid those few on a table to finish drying, and, before the week was over, they were dry and ready to open.

The sum total of my black bean harvest?  Exactly three-quarters of a cup, which when soaked and cooked will provide about one serving for my black beans and rice-loving family.  026 The packet of seeds cost more than a whole pound of dried beans at the grocery store, and it took me nearly an hour to pick the pods and shell them.  This was an interesting experiment, and I am not unhappy I grew the black beans.  However, the cost and effort far outweighed the reward, and I doubt whether I will do it again.

I don’t like to end posts on a negative note, so please enjoy these pictures of the marigolds whose seeds I collected today!

‘Bonanza Yellow’:019‘Bonanza Orange’:020‘Jaguar’:024

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