Picking the last blooms off spindly plants in your family garden might seem like a final salute to summer’s beauty, but don’t say your adieus yet. A scraggly looking plot gone to seed is ripe for more family gardening fun.
Hiding in pods and flowers are thousands of seeds waiting to be discovered, sorted and saved for next season’s planting. You can keep dried seeds in small containers with tight-fitting lids and store in the refrigerator until it’s time to plant them next year.
Or share seeds with others, embedded in homemade recycled paper shapes you can give as unique gift cards. When spring comes around, they can be planted in their gardens, card and all!
Collect seeds. Pick flowers, such as marigolds or poppies, whose petals have died or where a seed head has formed. Shake out the seeds on pieces of paper, keeping them separated by flower type. Let them dry out for a day or two.
Make homemade paper shapes.
1. Tear newspaper, colorful construction paper, phone book pages and/or junk mail into 1-inch-by-1-inch strips and toss into a blender until it is half-full. (Avoid using shiny paper from magazines.)
Add water to cover the paper, and blend on high speed into a thick, goopy consistency, like oatmeal. Toss in some colorful flower petals if you wish, and give the goop a final pulse.
2. Meanwhile, set a paper-making screen frame or use a scrap piece of stiff window screen over an old towel. Set a large cookie cutter on the screen, then pour a thin layer of the paper and water “goop” into the shape.
Press with a sponge or towel to force excess water through the screen. Sprinkle and press seeds of the same kind of plant into the goop in the cookie cutter.
3. Carefully lift the screen onto an old towel. Remove the cookie cutter to reveal its shape. Set a towel on top and press more water out of the shape. Make several seed cards and let dry in a warm, dry place for a day or two.
4. Punch a hole and thread ribbon through the cards for gift tags, inserts to holiday or birthday cards, or use as a clever place setting at a party.
Add a cheery note with directions to plant the seed card directly in a prepared flowerpot or garden next spring.
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