Propagating and seed saving

What does propagation mean? How can plants be propagated? Can I collect seeds to replant in my garden? How can I collect seeds from plants, fruit and vegetables? Read below to find out.

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What does propagation mean?

Propagation is the process of creating a new plant from a part of another plant. This could be the seed, but also includes cuttings, bulbs and leaves. Propagation is a great way to save money and to learn more about the life cycle of plants.

How can plants be propagated?

Propagating

Plants can be propagated in many ways, and you can do it yourself (with help from an adult).

  • Cuttings. These can be taken from semi-hardwood plants (such as lavender, oregano and rosemary) or from softer plants (such as basil and mint). Cut off a healthy piece of the plant from a plant that has finished flowering and place in a mixture of potting mix and river sand until they grow roots, at which point you can plant them into your garden.
  • Leaves. Plants such as succulents can be grown from leaf cuttings. These plants are extremely hardy and store all of the water and nutrition they need to grow within their leaves. Simply remove a healthy leaf from these types of plants and follow the same process as for the cuttings.
  • Grafting. Often performed with citrus fruit trees, grafting involves attaching a cutting from one plant to another plant. For example, you could graft a lemon cutting onto an orange tree. Grafted trees will often produce a better quality fruit, and fruit quicker too.
  • Plant products. Sometimes the parts of edible plants that we throw away can be used to grow more plants. Some examples include replanting the base of your celery after you have removed the celery stalks to grow a new celery plant, or growing multiple potatoes from planting one potato with ‘eyes’ or shoots growing from it.

Can I collect seeds to replant in my garden?

Seed collecting

Collecting seeds from your garden is very easy. The best time to collect seeds is after your plants have flowered or produced fruit. Organic gardeners normally grow plants from open-pollinated seeds (which reproduce themselves either through cross-pollination or self-pollination). They choose to do this because each generation of plants should continue to grow just as the parent plant did. These seeds should also be free from disease, and well adapted to the soil and climate conditions.

How can I collect seeds from plants, fruit and vegetables?

The first rule of seed saving is ‘Save the best and eat the rest’. Choose your strongest and healthiest plants to collect seeds from. As different types of seeds all look different, it is important to keep seeds in separate labelled envelopes so that you do not get them mixed up. You can easily collect watermelon seeds as you eat the fruit, and you can scrape the seeds from cucumbers and tomatoes. Lettuce seeds can be shaken from the dried flower, and corn seeds can be dried and removed from the cob. Now that sounds like fun!