I have to hide them, the rapidly filling bowls. Stash them downstairs. My wife thinks multiple dishes of drying seed are impossibly untidy, though to be fair she isn’t that sure about bookshelves.
But it is the best gardening thing, honestly, to grow from seed you’ve saved yourself: more intimate, more magical, with more of a relationship.
We were lucky. At the start of our allotment journey, we met some seed obsessives, travelling and swapping varieties from off the beaten track. We learned early on the magic of growing more unusual seed.
Currently covering our downstairs shelves: assorted dishes of tear peas in pods, coriander, tagetes, nasturtiums, calendula and sunflowers. So far so predictable. Also honesty from a bloom I’d noticed on the walk to the plot and last week saw had seeded. Assorted beans will be next (including ‘Bacau’), orache and amaranth – though they liberally self-seed everywhere – painted mountain corn, some sweet peas in the autumn, maybe beetroot in the spring.
The rules are simple. Choose plants you’ve particularly liked the look of. Leave saving late so seed is well-established, though not too late that, say, tagetes heads are sodden with deep-autumn dew. Pick them on a dry day. Keep indoors, uncovered. A light, cool room works best for me. Avoid storing in plastic bags if you can, in case of residual moisture. If the seed is small, it’s safest when cleaning to sort on a flat surface with sides. I use the shiny upturned lid of a cake tin. Be as painstaking as you care to be. I am pretty thorough, particularly if I am sharing. It won’t replace the lure of seed sites or save you much money, but the joy of seeing your own seed grow is the greatest garden pleasure I know.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com