Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dried Flowers and Leaves

Do you remember my flower press? (click here) It is about time I let you guys know how this experiment turned out. I let the flowers and leaves dry a few weeks, and when it was finally time to open the press and see the results, I was very exited and curious! But my excitement died a little when I saw that the previously pretty and colourful flowers had been turned into fade, dirty looking and rippled ones. :( I knew they would loose some of their colours, but I didn't know they would become quite that fade, and didn't think the white would become quite that brown!

As you can see, the pretty red poppy flowers are now a dull pink. The pure white flowers became brown and spotted. The rich pink ones and the purple ones became dark fade violet.
However, the tiny blue/purple ones are the ones who survived the drying process the best by keeping both a nice shape and a vibrant colour.
I also made the mistake to use rippled cardboard. It was not rippled on the surface, but once pressed, the texture showed through and as clearly visible on the far right of the picture, printed itself on the delicate flowers. What a sad result. :( Lesson learned!

But all was not lost! The leaves, which are by nature more robust to start with, turned out pretty well! They dried nicely and retained most of their lovely green shades.

These are now stored safely for future use. I'm sure I'll be happy to get a little taste of summer by finding and using them in a project somewhere in the middle of the cold season. We'll see.

I will of course try again with different flowers and with even more leaves. I think some flowers react better to drying than others, so it will be a little quest to find out which ones give good results, and which ones should be avoided.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This season, I learned a lot about sowing and caring for a garden. I've also come to realize that while it is indeed a lot of work, it is not necessary, unlike what I was led to believe, to be absolutely perfect in the art of gardening in order to enjoy a decent harvest. There are weeds in my garden. Yep... But there are also perfectly fine vegetables which I was able to add to many meals and happily savour. It certainly was successful enough in the end to make me already look forward to next year and a new garden season.

In preparations to that, the next thing I wanted to explore was seed harvesting. How fun would it be if I could eventually harvest all my seeds from my own garden and use them in the following years! Not only would I save a lot of money over time, but I would also ensure the quality of my seeds. I decided to start with the obvious: Everything that grows in pods.

So I am intentionally leaving some peas, green beans and yellow beans on the plants to mature and dry,  whereafter I will be able to crack the dried pods open and save the seeds for next year.

In the meantime, I looked around the yard and garden to find seeds that I could already harvest, and here is the result of my mini-quest.

(Same process for pumpkins)

1- Allow one of the zucchinis to grow and mature on the plant. I learned that they can become really quite huge!

42 x 12 cm (around 16.5" x  4,5") 
2- Cut the zucchini open and scrape the middle out.

Cut and scrape...
3- Find the healthy looking seeds. They look pretty much like pumpkin seeds. Discard the rest of the gooey stuff. The flesh can be eaten, of course! Lay the seeds on paper towels or on a screen net tray. Set somewhere warm and dry and leave them for a couple of weeks. When the seeds are completely dry, store for next year!

It's not only vegetable seeds that can be harvested. Flowers are fun too, and some of them are quite easy to deal with.


I spotted my blue irises earlier this year. When the flowers were done, the plant started forming pods in their place. I didn't touch anything and waited through the season for the pods to mature and dry.

1- Wait for the pods to dry and turn brown. They will start opening at the top and they will sound like mini maracas when you shake them.

Dried iris seed pods (featuring a blurry Kashew  in the background)
2- Pick the best looking ones, and crack them open.

3 - Clear residues out and store the seeds away. 


Harvesting lavender seeds is a bit of a different process. 

1- Wait until the flowers are done and dry. They will have holes all over.

Dried lavender flower. (Featuring a blurry Tiana in the background)
2- Cut out some of the dried flowers and place them in a container with lid.
Lavender flowers, even at this stage, have such a nice fragrance! 
3- Close and shake the container. The little seeds contained in the flowers will fall out. 

4- Take the flowers out and set the seeds aside. Repeat the process with the same flowers until no more seeds are obtained. 

5 - Clear the residues out and store the small seeds. 

Tiny lavender seeds
I don't actually have any intention of sowing lavender directly in soil. I have a lot of it and one of its way to propagate is to run roots out under the soil in and pop baby plants everywhere. So as nice looking and as beautiful a fragrance it can have, it can be quite a pest at times! However, lavender in pots can also have its charm. :)

That's it for the time being. If any of you also harvest seeds and have tricks to share, please feel free to comment! I would love to hear from you. :)