Tuesday, June 4, 2019

When to pick bluebonnet seeds

I get asked this often and I tell them, "When the pods are green, they're not done yet. When they just start turning brown, keep a close eye on them every day. When they're very brown, it's time."

But what kind of brown?  Pecan brown? Chestnut brown? Chocolate brown? If so, what kind? Milk chocolate? Dark? Or maybe it's just sorta'-kinda'-dry-looking brown?

Mud brown.  Light dirt mud brown.  That's about right.

Even when I try to put it clearly like that, some people think they know, but later, when they show me what they picked, they didn't quite get it.  Others, I can see by the look on their faces that they're not quite sure right then and there.  It's important to get it right when harvesting seeds to make sure the maximum number of seeds are mature enough to sprout later.  So...

Thank all the gods for pictures!  In both of the photos, you can see the progression and pretty much the right shade of brown.  Left to right: green (don't pick), sort of green and beginning to turn brown and kind of yellow sort of (watch closely 'cause it's any day now), and brown (It's TIME!).

Too green.
Once they reach this point, they're close to splitting open and throwing the seeds.  It's really cool how
they do that - the pods "pop", curling open quickly, spitting the seeds away from the mother plant.  Mama Nature, you're so cool.

An interesting aside: I've read that if you're near when they do that, you can really hear the pop. I haven't ever. Maybe I need to spend more time in the bluebonnet patch.

Almost done.
At that point, you can:
1. ... pick them, plant and all, and put the whole thing in a brown paper bag to dry and catch the seeds when the pods pop.  Some people say you can pick the whole plant earlier than this, but I like to wait to make sure the most seeds possible have reached as close as they can to maturity.
2. ... or you can put netting around them, tied at the bottom like lollipop wrappers, to catch the seeds when they pop, though this can be a pain in the ass if you have a lot.
3. ... OR, by now, they're mature enough to just pick outright, just the pods.  If you do pick just the pods, put them in a paper bag or pillowcase and shake them every day to make sure none are sticking together so much that they mold. Once they're this dry that's unlikely, but just to be on the safe side, shake ... your booty. Ahem.


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