WCC Seed Nursery

By Michelle Klim

This season, the sustainability crew at The Washington Corrections Center (WCC) in Shelton, WA planted native prairie plants for seed harvesting. These plants, which include Plectritis congesta, Collinsia parviflora, and Collinsia grandiflora, are being used in prairie restoration for the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. 

 

Despite work delays, the crew was able to sow the field and harvest the seeds-which are currently curing inside before they’re packaged and distributed. This process involved deconstructing old garden beds that previously housed violets, reshaping the soil, planting ground cover, sowing the seeds twice, and weeding the rows weekly.   

Technicians weeded the rows weekly (top). SPP Conservation Manager Carl Elliot and a WCC crew member discuss seed ripeness and harvest dates (left). A technician shows Plectritis congesta seeds. Photos by Michelle Klim.

 

Technicians harvested Plectritis congesta by knocking the seeds off the plant and into a bin. Photo by Michelle Klim.

During the harvesting process, the crew noticed that there were seeds being left behind. They came up with an innovative solution- using a wireless shop-vac to collect them. They separated the seeds from the soil by shaking them through sieves but still had some small debris in the mix. After some trial and error, they came up with a solution- submerging the seeds in water and collecting the ones that float or bunch together.

Seeds that were dropped while harvesting were vacuumed up and sorted through. Shown is what is collected by the vacuum. Photo by Michelle Klim.

A WCC Technician collecting Collinisia seeds from a water bath. Photo by Michelle Klim.

A technician holds the seeds that have been separated out by water. The seeds will dry and cure before they are weighed and packaged. Photo by Michelle Klim.

The work was not easy, but the team was able to work together to come up with solutions and complete the harvest.  

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