Basic Seed Saving: Easy step by step instructions for 18 popular vegetables and 29 wildflowers!
by Bill McDorman
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With the recent challenges across the globe, ‘regular’ life has been put on hold for most individuals. Unemployment is at an all-time high, holes in the healthcare systems have been unveiled, and the way humans interact with one another is being reconsidered. The ensuing ripple effect has also led to the questioning of our food security, and the important role local seeds play in local agriculture. Nationwide seed catalogs are selling out or limiting purchases due to a kind of buying frenzy. The good news is that you don’t have to buy seeds. You can save them, year after year with incredible success and benefits.
The time to start saving seeds is now! People are beginning to understand the connection between seed saving and local agriculture as vital lifelines to support healthy living especially during crises such as the pandemic we are all experiencing. With this book, you will deepen your understanding of seed saving and growing food and reconnect with this ancient and critical tradition.
Most of the agricultural industry has been deemed essential because people have to eat. But that doesn’t mean the region’s farms aren’t affected by the pandemic. Issues include possible immigrant labor shortages, protecting farmworkers from the virus and dwindling demand for agricultural products when many of the industry’s customers — including restaurants and food-service industries — are shuttered or scaled back.
Every time you purchase seeds, you miss out on one of nature’s most magical opportunities. Saving and replanting seeds allows you to carry the best of your garden’s harvest into the next season—and the next, and the next. This incredible potential for adaptability is unparalleled in our modern technology. Miraculously, seeds have the power to self-replicate. They contain the software and hardware necessary to evolve in real-time based on information from the environment.
With a curious gardener behind this process, our saved seeds can change and adapt season after season to our immediate wants and needs. Flavors, colors, and traits grow more prominent and refined. But when we buy seeds, we start from scratch. We break the cycle and ignore this remarkable potential.
For more than 300 generations, we humans have been saving the seeds from the plants we favor, replanting them again and again in an elegant ritual. Food crops that now feed the world’s population arose this way, developed over millennia from wild plants. This practice emerged naturally, instinctively, and well before the science of modern plant genetics was discovered.
Every ancient culture saved seeds. We are all the descendants of ingenious, inspired seed stewards who created an unimaginable display of diversity. This bounty is our sustenance and our birthright. But with the rise of industrial agriculture, the age-old cycle of seed saving has been shattered. An estimated 90% or more of the unique and nuanced seed varieties once available have disappeared from widespread use. And along with the seeds, an irreplaceable treasure of stories, traditions, and practical knowledge has been lost. This is tragic—but we can turn the tide.
The goal of Basic Seed Saving is to empower modern gardeners to begin saving their own seeds. It is organized to help everyone start with the easiest-to-save vegetables. My hope is that you will gain confidence from what you learn and move on through the book to the more complex varieties and procedures. Too many times I have seen new seed saving students get lost or discouraged by a barrage of complex concepts at the beginning of a seed saving book or workshop. Remember, detailed lessons in biology and genetics are only necessary for seed growers at the industrial and market breeder levels. Home gardeners can afford to be playful and make “mistakes.” In fact, many of the world’s favorite crops are the result of small farmers and gardeners playfully experimenting with the resulting surprises found in their own fields and backyards.
Start with the easy varieties. Have fun! And let yourself become inspired. If you give this process a chance, I am confident the seeds themselves will lead you deeper down the path into the magical world of seed saving.
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