The Romance and History of Seed Saving (now how the heck do I do it?)

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I have been listening to lectures and reading about seed saving.  It is something I have wanted to do, but then at the end of the season I either get lazy, run out of time, or run out of plants to save!  This idea appeals to me though and makes so much sense.

There are the practical reasons, of course.  When you patent something, you own it.  When you patent a seed, you own life.  Dow, Dupont, and Monsanto would very much like to own life.  These are mega corporations that seem to have no soul.  They are made up of people with well lined green pockets and their friends in politics benefit too.  Dow and Dupont create the most powerful pesticides and herbicides on the market made from leftovers of chemical warfare, slowly killing populations of species including people.  These require plants that can stand up to them.  Monsanto, with their genetically engineered seeds, are patenting all types of seeds.  They are open pollinated so if it drifts into your garden, they own your seeds too.  If one was to stop and think about it, it is all very terrifying that a large entity could own our life force, our food, and not just any food, poisonous food.  They are already poisoning millions of Americans every day with their GMO’s that are in practically every processed food and in more and more produce.

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I am blessed to live in an area that is not known for farming (lucky me, there is a reason for that!) but the benefit of that is that I have no drift from GMO crops.  I should be saving my seeds!  I would also save $600 a year on seeds that I starry eyed buy in January.

I am also struck by the romance and the history of saving seeds.  Our grandparents that came over from other countries with seeds in the lining of their jackets.  Our Native American ancestors saved seed to take from place to place.  There were no glossy seed catalogues for them to order from each year.  Seeds were a source of trade.  Seeds were gold.  Over 94% of all seeds are gone.  Forever.  We will never know many of the delicious foods that our ancestors ate.  Even from the 1940’s.

Maryjane's first radish.

We have selected hybrid seeds to choose from.  This is a great reason to choose a seed company like Seed Savers.  They have successfully saved hundreds of seeds from extinction.  To plant a seed that was brought over by covered wagon or a seed from corn that was used as cornmeal are all gifts from a past time.  Then save the seed.

A beautiful story I read in a magazine years ago has followed me in memory.  After the Vietnam war there were several refugees.  I believe this happened in Louisiana.  The Catholic ministries bought two apartment buildings to house these refugees.  These folks were missing their homeland and their families.  With them when they fled their war torn country were seeds.  The people started a garden at their new place and planted the seeds from their homes.  They created an oasis of foods of comfort that are not grown here.  Vegetables their mothers grew, recognizable and tactile pieces of home.

pumpkin

I know how to save seeds from squashes and tomatoes, that type of plant.  I just need to do it.  I do not have a clue how to save things like collard greens or lettuce or radishes.  I left  some of them up and their flowers are beautiful waving daintily over the other plants.  Now what?  Will the seeds come after the flower?  Do I need to chop their heads off now?  Oh bother, I need a book and a teacher!

This year I will at least save seeds from pumpkins, from squash, from potatoes.  Start slow and work my way up to a collection.  Create my own chest of gold.

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    lettuce seeds will end up in a little puff of fluff, kind of like dandelion. Just cut the stock off after it has fully fluffed and the seeds start to turn a dark color and put in a paper bag. Let it dry out and shake and you will a zillion seeds. 😉 Or……you can just let the seed head burst and let the seeds go where they will and you will be pleasantly surprised come spring. 😉 I do that occasionally, like this last year. My chard and cilantro I let do the same thing this last year. Its nice and easy. Less time planting and they come up where it feels good to them 😉 Have fun!!!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thanks! Good advice!

  2. debweeks says:

    I’m torn between saving seeds and continuing to buy seeds from my now favorite seed company, Baker Creek. It would certainly be much more economical for me to save my own seeds, but I would also like to keep them in business so I can keep trying new things each year 🙂 Not that they are at risk of shutting down without my business. LOL!!!

    Living in Illinois, I fight the GMO battle and more. Last week, crop dusters were flying over the fields spraying the corn and soybeans. YUCK!!! That stuff doesn’t just hit the crops and our house is only a few blocks from the fields. I’m more than ready to move to an area where I don’t have to deal with the farming industry and all their advancements that certainly don’t make our lives healthier. I would be thrilled to live in an area that isn’t known for farming and have my own little farm.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I know what you mean. We have to support the large companies that are actually doing their part to help save us but also help ourselves. I am sure there is plenty of opportunity to do both!

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