The Right Tool

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

I have said before that the tractor may be my favorite gardening tool. I have many others, often not originally for gardening. In cleaning seed this season I have been using sieves, bags, plates, cottage cheese or yogurt containers, funnels, seed sprouter lids & more.
I started years ago with a battered kitchen sieve, added a smaller tea sieve, and have since searched high & low for different sizes of screens. Funnels are useful for ushering cleaned seeds into their paper packets. Paper bags are good for drying seeds as they don’t get moldy like plastic and they have form; you can shake seeds from their heads & pods against the sides without totally crushing them, which makes for less chaff to winnow out. The plates are for winnowing; the best ones have a whisper of a crown to them and are light enough to hold and tap with the other hand, causing the heavier seed to stay put and the chaff to rise to the near side where it can be removed. The old cottage cheese containers are for gathering and also for chaff removal–when charged with static electricity (rub on your head like a balloon, you remember) the chaff clings to the sides and can be wiped away with a damp towel.
When they are packed in glassine & paper envelopes, labelled & listed, they are tucked in glass jars in the fridge (the asap to plant ones, the primulas, the delphiniums, etc.) or in 5-gallon pails with food seal lids (I use bucket tool arranger trays to hold them; they fit 3 to a bucket if you use short packets.)

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

Judith October 1, 2003, 12:42 pm

No, I had trouble sorting & spilling them! The fridge can only hold so much and when I found airtight/watertight lids for buckets I knew I was home. Healthfood stores often can order the lids relatively inexpensively if you need a lot–I have 5 for seeds. . .The tool trays I found in a tool catalog. Makes it faster to find the annual Dianthus versus the annual vines versus the penstemons. I used to keep things in tins but the buckets are much more secure.

Kathy October 1, 2003, 12:00 pm

Those are great seed cleaning tips. And I like the idea of the bucket with the tool trays to store them in. Did you have trouble with critters getting into them before you hit upon that idea?