Saving Seeds Is A Chore For Fall | Gardening tips

The bean stalks and pea sticks are still in place. Ghostly, empty now of summer. Threaded with faded nasturtiums, defying winter for a few more days.

I cling to their size and their memories. Echoes of the growing season. Reduced reminders of what was.

The sunflowers are torn up, the broken tree trunks put away. The seeds were mostly stored or eaten by birds. The rest is aged, blackened, moldy.

The neighbor’s last apples have fallen. The giant cardoons collapsed, their seed heads exploded to the ground. The most recent loss. November is a crueler month.

Most of the time, it’s just me now, and our nearby robins. The curious cat. The young fox still spends occasionally in the evening. Safe from me, he looks sly, playful, as he slips into the intrigue. Visits make me happy. Owls call more frequently as the light dims. Melancholy reigns.

Dishes of drying seeds are scattered around the house. The communal shed is crowded, dark and damp now. Our seed needs to be hot and dry.

I focused on the tagetes. A new stream of first-generation flowers, dead heads gathered in the damp morning – stuffed in my pockets. I place them delicately on absorbent paper on my return.

I try not to make a mess; prevent shallow bowls from overflowing. I understand that they mean more to me than to other people in the house.

Seed saving came to us by accident, at the start of our gardening here; masters of the boat on their way to the far west of Ireland.

Seeds that came with history: Trail of Tears Beans and tears from the Basque Country.

I regret that it’s harder now to get seeds from friends from their travels: Andrew and Sarah at Adaptive seeds in Oregon; Madeline and Holly at Brown husk seeds Liege. Until it subsides, our saved seed will overflow.

Allan Jenkins Plot 29 (4th Estate, £ 9.99) is out now. Order it for £ 8.49 from guardbookshop.com

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