My two helpers will be coming today, and I have work all lined up for them. This time of year, everything seems to come crowded together, getting late season orders out, replanting some species that have started growing in the bins, repotting trays that need the bulbs moved up to larger containers, and many, many more. One important job is cleaning all the seeds collected in the nursery over the season. This was a great year for seed. I am not quite sure why, but maybe using a better mix that is mostly pumice for the Mediterranean climate bulbs and new fans that circulate air a lot better all played a role. Weather, of course, is critical also. I have had some years when I have gathered almost no seed from my Calochortus collection, and since there are no commercial sources for most of these seeds, I must get them myself. I don't have time to travel to do so, enjoyable as it is, so I am dependent on my own bulbs for seed.
Today my helpers will be cleaning seed and putting the seed in envelopes. I will sort through them and decide which will be sown and which will be saved for next year. It is an old adage that you should never sow all your seed. You never know what the winter will hold, and last winter I lost many trays to damping off even with treating the seedlings and excellent air circulation. This is not a small job, and after they are packaged and sorted, many will be sown in plastic bags in damp vermiculite then placed in the refrigerator. As soon as there is any sign of germination, they are taken out and sown in the greenhouses. This spreads the sowing of seeds all through the winter, for some will promptly germinate, others might take four months. For people not experienced with California native bulbs, this can be confusing. It isn't like tomatoes, these bulbs need cool temperatures to germinate, then grow through the winter. Warm temperatures inhibit germination, so the refrigerator is a safe place with appropriate temperatures to start their germination cycle. Some seeds from Mediterranean climates, such as South African seeds, need a diurnal swing in temperature of at least 10C, so those seeds are sown directly in trays in the greenhouse.