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Your herb garden has given you great pleasure from the planting of the first seeds, through the excitement of the first sprouts and continuing to the mature plant which you have enjoyed in so many ways. Now it's time to think about next year's herb garden and harvesting the seeds provided by your plant.
Most herbs will begin to flower a little after mid-summer, attracting the insects they need for fertilization. Once this process has taken place the petals begin to drop revealing the seeds or seed pods. It is very important that you pay attention to your plant during this time if you desire to harvest the seeds. Many herbs are, by nature, self-seeding and can shed their seeds in a matter of days.
The best way to harvest herb seeds if your herbs are in small pots is to gather medium sized sheets of white or light colored paper so you can lay the herb on its side. With the plant on the paper, gently shake the plant allowing the seeds to fall. Many herb seeds like chamomile are tiny and this will aid you with seeing the seeds. Next you will need to remove any dried leaves or plant parts which have shaken loose. Spread the seeds on the paper to dry and place in a sunny area with little or no drafts. If you have larger plants, you can spread sheets of newspaper under the plants and gently shake the seeds loose. Although most seeds can be easily harvested, many plants such as the mints are notorious self-seeders and will come back year after year.
Drying seeds will take from 7 to 9 days and with larger seeds, possibly longer. When the seeds are dry, gently fold the paper to make a funnel and pour the seeds into glass jars or paper seed packets. Seed packets can ordinarily be purchased from you local garden center and are preferable to glass jars because the allow any moisture in the seed to evaporate naturally.