EASIEST TO START OUTDOORS: Plant poppies in late fall or very early spring directly into the garden. In cold climates, seeds will overwinter and germinate when soil thaws. Blossoms and pods are largest when plants grow in cool weather; seedlings are very cold hardy. In a well-worked, finely textured seed bed in full sun, sprinkle seeds thinly (mixing dry sand with the seeds will help space them). Rake in gently or lightly cover seeds 1/8 inch deep and keep seed-bed moist until seedlings emerge in 7 to 14 days. If seedlings come up too thickly, thin poppies early, but delay final thinning to 6 to 8 inches apart until weather has settled in spring.
HARVEST & USE: Open a fully formed seed capsule to make sure the tiny seeds are black and hard, then cut seed pods stalks with long stems. Bunch pods upside down in a paper bag to dry fully, leaving it open for air circulation. When seeds are thoroughly dry, shake them out, clean any debris from seeds, and store in a closed jar or freeze. Toasted Poppy seeds' nutty flavor enhances both sweet and savory breads, cakes and cookies and is delicious in salad dressing.