Dead-heading and collecting your own seed
One of the beauties of gardening is that it can become self-sustainable if you have the time and inclination, as you can reproduce the plants you most like either by propagation or by collecting seed. Of course, not everything will come exactly true to type as genetic variations in the plants when grown from collected seed will show themselves, but sometimes this is half the fun!
Many flowering plants benefit from deadheading as this is how they set seed. If you wish to prolong the plants flowering season deadheading them before they set seed will encourage them to produce more flowers. This needn’t be a laborious job, simply wander out in the garden with a small set of snips or secateurs and snip a few heads off every day. I often have a bucket or two strategically located in the garden to collect the heads, or alternatively if they have already set seed I will throw that into the border itself to let nature do its work.
If you want to collect seed of plants you particularly like then let the flowers remain a little longer until the petals have started to fade and the seed is set. Then cut the flower heads in the evening of a dry day as less moisture makes them easier to dry.
The picture shows a selection of plants including several types of Cosmos and Calendula as well as Lavender and Scabious.
These can then be laid out to dry on kitchen roll somewhere dry, maybe a garage floor, a windowsill until the flower head has dried out completely and the petals have fallen of and all you have left is the seed head. The seeds are often easily shaken or pulled off, just make sure you do this over white paper or into an envelope as some seeds are very small. Store the seeds in a paper packet or envelope which you have clearly labelled, otherwise you will have a good guessing game in the Spring when you come to sow them. Some easy plants to start collecting seeds from are Nigella (very small seeds), Calendula and Cosmos.