September is the time of year your plants are doing double duty-- producing a crop, and trying to set seed.
While the edible part of the plant is probably your focus, letting some plants go to seed can provide both you, and the critters in your yard, with another meal. That bitter bolted lettuce that looks like a fluffy topped weed has turned into a seed factory. Lettuce breeds true, meaning if you save some of the seeds, and plant them next year, you will get the same kind of lettuce. It's also instructive to look at the flowers, and find the seeds. " So that's where lettuce seeds come from -- lettuce plants." Those that you don't stuff in an envelope will likely make nice snacks for winter songbirds. Some plants don't even require you to save seed to get another crop. The poppies a friend gave me 5 - OK, maybe 10 years ago sprout up on their own every year. " Wow- seeds can sprout with no help from people? Who'de have guessed". I harvest and cook with the poppy seed each year, but let the poppies plant themselves Arugula does the same thing in my garden. If you really want a challenge, and a learning experience, leave a few beets and carrots in the ground. Both plants are bi-annuals, which means they produce an edible root- for us- the first year, then use the energy stored in the root to produce seed- that you can save- the next year. Don' t try to eat the roots next year- unless you like to gnaw on firewood. Don't save hybrid vegetable seeds if you are hoping to get the same crop again next year. But seed saving can provide you - and your friends with free food forever. "Gosh, I thought all seeds came from little envelopes" I' m John Fischer with KLCC's good gardening.