Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday September 17th, 2017 Seed Saving

This Wednesday, there’s going to be a Seed Saving Workshop at the Brodie Resource Library in partnership with Roots to Harvest. Everyone is invited to learn from local seed saving experts from Superior Seed Savers how to save seeds from some of your garden plants. They will cover the basics of seed saving, and share tips to make your seed harvest a success. But if you’re too excited to wait until Wednesday to learn how to save seeds from your plants, fear not - the Thunder Bay Public Library has some fantastic books that will get you started!

My favourite book for beginner seed savers is Seedswap: the Gardener’s Guide to Saving and Swapping Seeds by Josie Jeffrey. Jeffrey covers the basics of how seeds reproduce, then shares different techniques for drying out seeds, and raising seedlings. She also talks about the benefits of seed swaps and libraries, and describes how to create one yourself. Finally, she has included a directory that explains how to save seeds from some common plants; most of the plants she covers are herbs and vegetables, but she includes a few flowers as well.

If you just want to save seeds from vegetables, you need to check out Seed Saving: A Beginner’s Guide to Heirloom Harvesting by Caleb Warnock. Warnock owns the heirloom seed company, which specializes in non-hybrid seeds. He jokes at the beginning of the book that if you follow his tips, you will know how to put him out of business. But in his experience, most people think it’s really hard to save seeds (plus we have the convenience of being able to buy seeds from grocery stores every spring). So he wrote his book to preserve this knowledge (and ideally to help bring it back to people). Seedsaving is a fantastic reference book, going into detail on the five seed types, seed genetics, and how to prevent wild seeds. What I really liked was his list of vegetable species that can cross pollinate with each other (so if you’re going to save seeds from these species, make sure you keep the plants away from one another). He ends the book with an in depth look at forty common vegetables and how to save seeds from them. Overall, Seedsaving is a fantastic reference for anyone interested in vegetable seeds.

The most comprehensive reference book on seed saving that we have is The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough. Starting with some information on harvesting/cleaning seeds, seed storage, and germination, the book then has 200 pages dedicated to saving the seeds from vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even trees.

If you’re interested in starting your own seed swap or library, check out Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People by Cindy Conner. Conner believes thatWhoever owns the seeds controls the food supply” (17), so it’s her aim to get seeds back into the hands of the people. She details the history of big seed business, and goes through the many benefits of seed swaps and libraries (which includes preserving the genetic diversity of plants, cultural heritage, and saving money for gardeners). Then she shares her many tips and resources for starting your own seed swap or library. The one thing this book assumes is that you already know how to save seeds; so if you need help with that, you’ll need to check out one of the other books first.

All of these and more can be found at your local library. And don’t forget to go to Brodie on Wednesday, September 20th for the Seed Saving Workshop - it starts at 6:30pm in the Fireside Reading Room.

Shauna Kosoris 

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