Cleaning collected seeds

Kathleen Sayce
Tue, 05 Nov 2013 08:20:18 PST
When I was first gathering seeds, Jane McGary suggested using a bowl and either breath or wind to winnow seeds outside. 

After some daring tests over the sink, which scattered chaff all over the counters, I went outside on a dry day that wasn't windy, and started teaching myself how to winnow. I began with tulip and lily seeds, tricky because the sterile ovules are somewhat lighter in weight than the viable ones, and found that with a large bowl instead of a small one, I had good control over where the viable seeds fell back and could keep them inside the bowl. Heavier seeds are even easier, I found winnowing iris and allium seeds. 

Now, I use a Foley food mill to scrape the seeds out of hard pods, and save myself the pain of opening each one by hand. Softer pods I open by hand. Then I winnow the seeds from the chaff using a large bowl, outside.

I do this over a small patch of lawn near my kitchen door, and expect a wide range of escaped seeds to emerge in the lawn. Iris, lily, tulip, allium, etc. 
Thank you, Jane, for encouraging me in this very old practice!


Kathleen Sayce
South Washington Coast, mild wet winters, cool dryish summers, zone 8

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