Farmers and gardeners around the world have historically saved their own seed from crop since the beginning of agriculture. Out of necessity, the seed was traditionally the symbol of food security and a sign of new life. Ecologists and anthropologists alike note the loss of seed saving skills and agricultural knowledge worldwide with the decline of the small farmer and the invention of agribusiness
Here at the BJP, we’re looking to bring back some of that age-old wisdom, save ourselves a few bucks, and participate in the most sustainable growing methods that we can achieve. As part of an independent study in the Earth and Planetary Sciences department, I have begun to research seed ecology and actively save seed from the garden this fall. Check out some of the pictures of seeds I’ve been saving below:
I’ve learned different methods of gathering and saving seed, from dry collection and threshing of lettuce seed, to wet collection and fermentation of tomato seed. Among a few lessons learned:
- Okra and squash seeds need plenty of moisture for germination. Okra should be deeply scarified with a nail clippers before planting so that water can penetrate the seed coat.
- Oregano seed is the exact same color as the hull, making it very difficult to separate!
- Roommates will most likely not appreciate the smell of fermented tomato seeds. They are best placed by an open window or outside.
I’ve saved seeds of: Amish leaf lettuce, beans, okra, butternut squash, gourds, basil, oregano, Japanese shizo, garlic chives, heirloom tomato, coriander, and sage. I hope that my seed saving efforts will prove useful come spring planting! We can at least make a dent in the amount of seed purchases/donations for next year.
Education is another vital component of seed saving. Through workshops for other gardeners and lessons for school groups or field trips, seed saving techniques can be conveyed to the current and future gardeners of the community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you or a group you know of would be interested in a seed saving workshop or lesson!