Monty Don shares ‘easy’ way to grow plants ‘without cost’ – ‘gives dozens of free plants’

Gardeners' World: Monty Don explains how to store tomato seeds

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Increasing your garden’s blooms and plants from its own bounty is one of the most economical ways to increase plant stock. By late summer into autumn, many seed heads will be ready to gather. Growing plants from seeds collected from your own garden is one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening, not to mention it is also highly sustainable. Gardeners’ World host Monty Don, has shared some advice on collecting seeds in gardens so you can expand your outdoor space without spending a penny.

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He explained that growing your favourite plants from seeds is “easy” and “practically without cost”.

In his recent blog post for August, the gardening expert wrote: “Growing your favourite plants from seed is easy and practically without cost. 

“Not only will this give you dozens of free plants for future years but also spares to give or swap with friends and family.”

According to the gardening pro, August is the time to begin collecting seed from your garden.

To carry out this task, Monty suggested using brown paper envelopes.

He said: “Use brown paper envelopes – A5 is the ideal size – and either carefully cut the seed heads and upend them into the envelopes – seed head and all.

“Or place the envelope over the seed head, seal it and then snip the stem off and store it upside down. 

“Label each envelope clearly with the date, name of the plant and, ideally, the position in the garden, and store them in a cool, dry place.”

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The gardening expert explained that after a week or two the seeds should be dry and can then be sieved, cleaned and stored in sealed packets. 

For longer term storage a plastic tub with a tight lid stored in the fridge is ideal.

It’s also important to ensure they’re kept away from pests.

Along with flowers, you can try collecting seeds and berries from trees, shrubs, vegetables and herbs at different times of the year.

Seed swapping with friends and neighbours is a lovely way to share plants and flowers and fill your gardens with colour.

Much like plants and flowers, seeds come in all shapes and sizes – as pods, cones, berries, catkins, capsules, nuts, winged seed or exploding seed heads – and need careful handling and sorting.

Ian Spence, author of RHS Gardening Through The Year explained: “You will have to be vigilant – seed pods or heads may not look ready, but you can be sure that as soon as your back is turned, the seeds will pop out and spread themselves over the border.”

By collecting seeds gardeners can populate new areas of their garden with specific flowers that they love.

Along with collecting seeds, gardeners can also allow many annuals and biennials to self-sow by nature’s hand. 

Honesty, foxgloves and cornflowers are just some of the enduringly popular garden flowers that will generously self-seed around garden borders.

Seeds are usually ripe about two months after the plants have flowered, which will therefore differ depending on the flowering time of the specific plant. 

Gardeners will be busy collecting seeds from a lot of annuals, biennials and perennials in late summer and autumn. 

Ian added: “If there are plants you particularly want seed from, then watch them carefully.”

There are also some seeds that can be collected during the growing season when they are still green, such as calendula.

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