Why pay money for new seed each growing season when you can simply save and store the seed from your own plants? If you are fortunate enough to grow a plant that produces seed that can be easily harvested you can save on expenses with this simple project. In this example we are covering a hydroponic basil grow. As can be seen in the photo below the flowers have already bloomed and started to dry out which means they are ready to harvest the seed.
If you were to harvest this seed without any tools you may end up breaking the tiny flowers apart with your fingers and letting the seed fall to the surface below. If you know how large the seed tends to be in terms of diameter then you can select a screen to use that will allow the seed to fall through but keep must of the chaff on top where it can be discarded. I decided to make a quick makeshift seed harvester using some aluminum window screen and an old ice cream container. Any container would probably work and I recommend adapting these instructions to what you may have on hand.
Above we begin by cutting out the center of the container’s lid which will allow what is left of the lid to fit over the screen and keep it secured to the container that we will be using, in this case the bottom bucket of the ice cream container.
Now that we have created this ring-lid we can use it to secure the screen to our seed harvester bucket to capture the seeds.
We select enough screen to fit past the diameter of the top of the bucket and can also make cuts towards the center of the screen (but not cut the part of the screen in the center of the lid) which will allow the screen to bend a little easier if needed.
Here we have the ring we made earlier holding down the screen over the bucket which will allow us to rub the dried flower pieces over the screen in order to cause the seeds to fall through while separating the chaff.
Now we have placed the dried basil flower on top of the appropriately sized screen based on seed-size and we can begin.
After rubbing the dried flowers over the screen it looks like the above picture and the seeds will fall into the container.
The H basil seeds are very tiny from this plant but there they are in the bottom of the bucket which will save a lot of time and effort compared with manually sorting without the aid of any tools such as this.
Putting it all together
Hopefully this fun DIY project of a seed harvester made out of left over ice cream container will give you ideas for what you can do with similar materials to make your gardening experience more enjoyable and efficient. If you have multiple sizes of screen on hand you can alter the design to have interchangeable parts for harvesting different seed from whatever plants you may be growing depending on how similar those plants happen to be to these basil plants. Just remember these basic design ideas and you can probably come up with something to fit your needs.
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