Green Gardening: Saving Seeds
Late summer and fall is time to start saving seeds for next year. I have several types of flower seeds already. My dry beans are flourishing, and I have chosen the tomato and pepper plants to save from. This is an exciting time of year for me!
Just as I was starting to write about my experiences and the need to save seed, this article from The Food Tank appeared! Now, more than ever, we need to grow and save seed from open pollinated and heirloom varieties to preserve the biodiversity of the world’s food.
Why save seeds?
With chemical giants like Monsanto buying up small seed companies and forcing farmers to use their genetically modified products, we need to grow our own food from reliable seed sources (including ourselves) and support small farms by shopping at the farmers market and supporting businesses that buy local food. Saving seed is the first step, though, in fighting the big guys!
It is also a way to deal with climate change. I have been growing my own food for over 35 years, 25 of them here in northern New Mexico. The weather used to be predictable, and it was easy to grow. Over the last several years, though, we are seeing drier yet longer and colder winters, windier than usual springs, hot, dry summers with floods when it does decide to rain, and summers that extend almost to December. We never know what to expect anymore!
Plants you’ve grown thrive in your climate
If you grow food from seed you have saved, the plants are acclimated to your climate and specifically your yard – soil, sun, water and nutrients. They get stronger and stronger with each generation, but they won’t grow as well in another locale.
I want seeds from companies in other parts of the country, but I know their product will not grow here as well as it will there. Seasons might be longer or shorter, the plants might be resistant to diseases they battle but that I never see, and so on. Plants grown from seed produced in a certain area grow best in that area.
Planning tips for saving seeds
Seed saving takes planning over the winter, so now is the time to think about what you want to save, and where to plant to avoid cross-overs. For great seed saving webinars, visit the Seed Savers Exchange. When people ask me questions, I direct them to SSE instead of reinventing the wheel. The whole website is loaded with great information, but the webinars have a hands-on feel to them that I like.
The Food Tank article lists 15 projects around the world that are saving seed. I am familiar with several of them, but apparently, I have several more to study! Look for seed saving organizations in your area, and get involved!