In between the scattered rain today I was out in the garden checking on the Cleomes and trying to collect a few seeds so I could scatter them into other areas of the garden. One of these annual plants can produce more seeds than you know what to do with, the trick is knowing when the seed pods are ripe so you can collect your Cleome seeds.
I've learned that the pod of the size isn't an indication of ripe seeds and sometimes you also can't rely on the color of the seed pods to guide you either. The seed pods turn a pale green or mustard yellow when they are ripe, the problem I've encountered is that by the time the color looks right the pod may have split and the seeds have been dropped.
The size of the pod also doesn't seem to be much of an indicator of being filled with ripe seeds. Today I noticed that a seed pod the size of my index fingernail had split and only one seed remained hanging on. On the same plant there are pods that are the length of my index finger that have not yet ripened.
One trick that I've come across that works well for me is cupping the seed pod in one hand and gently pressing it between the pad of your thumb and the palm of your hand. You don't need much pressure to do this-if the pod is ready you will feel it split in your hand. If you feel the seed pod split gently and swiftly pull it towards you and you'll have a hand full of small dark seeds. I find that when I collect Cleome seeds I may have to check on them twice during the day, once in the morning and again in the evening. Seed pods that didn't give in the morning may be ready to release their seeds in the evening or seed pods that weren't ready last night will be ready in the morning.
I've created a small video showing you how to collect Cleome seeds. I hope this video helps in illustrating what I described in text and still picture here.