Saving Seeds – Food and gardening biodiversity

Everyone can save seeds!

Beginners and experienced gardeners can easily learn how.

I’d like to offer a few reasons on why we should save our seeds.

1) Saving seeds appeals to my motto of “waste not want not”.

I hate to see anything good go unused, and the economical reasons alone, especially in today’s financial climate, makes a ton of sense.
Seed savers knows that by gathering up seeds and storing them carefully away for next year’s garden is preservation for next year’s crop, and less money to fork out.

2) Personal selection.

I like the thought of developing my own vigorous strains over several seasons of selective seed saving. By saving seeds from the plants with the qualities you most prize, you will soon have varieties that are ideally adapted to your garden and growing conditions.

3) Maintain biodiversity.

This is likely the most important reason.

Fewer and fewer old varieties of food crops are available, so seed saving keeps the vegetable world’s food choices diversified.
Today many of the world’s food plants are disappearing, including vegetables, grains and fruit varieties.

Approx. 70 % of the world’s major food plants have already been lost. This is because modern agriculture practices require high yield, uniform plants, so the genetic base of the world’s food plants has been greatly reduced. This has left the world dependent on a few, closely related varieties of each crop.

4) Historical value.
Many plant varieties we save or trade are living links to the past.
Seed saving is a way to link with our ancestors. As gardeners, this is a responsibility and opportunity to pass these wonderful heirlooms to future generations.

5) Sustainability.

Many big companies sell varieties that are tasteless, but travel well. That’s not a good enough reason for me. Self reliance is very satisfying. It is our right to save seeds and make sure that there is enough variety on the planet which makes for biodiversity. It’s the cycle of life.

The thing is, we don’t need gigantic corporate conglomerates holding all the cards, or whittling down our choice of food or flowers.

These big companies, (I don’t have to mention names here), make most of their money, (their sole goal), selling toxic chemicals to spray produce with, on food that we ingest.

I’ll never be convinced this aim of theirs benefits us or any other form of life on earth, including the smallest microbes in soil.

Consider shopping locally if you can! Farmers’ markets & local festivals are a great place to start. Many locally based businesses carry organically sourced goods from small producers in their region, and of course almost anything can be acquired online.


For more information visit:

Seeds Of Diversity

Canada’s Heritage Seed Program – A non-profit group of gardeners who save seeds from rare and unusual garden plants for the purpose of preserving varieties – Purchase the manual – “How to Save Seeds” from their website!

Navdanya

Vandana Shiva on Seed Saving – “The desire to save seeds comes from an ethical urge to defend life’s evolution” says Vandana Shiva, activist, author and scholar.

150,000 farmers in India have committed suicide in areas where seed has been destroyed…where they have to buy the seed every year from Monsanto at a very high cost.

Saving seeds is crucial now for our farmers, for the plant varieties and species that will otherwise be extinct, for the health of the land and ourselves.

Seed Savers (U.S.A.)

“Since 1975, we have grown, saved, and shared heirloom seeds and led a movement to protect biodiversity and preserve heirloom varieties. At the heart of our organization is a seed bank that houses a collection of 20,000+ rare, open-pollinated varieties.”


DIY Seed Balls – Throw and Grow the Love in Your Garden

After reading a LOT of information about genetically modified seeds, and in turn learning about ‘guerrilla gardening’, I was further led to the discovery of ‘seed balls.

Seed balls are sustainable, ecofriendly tools, initially created for ecological urban renewal. On a less serious note, they’re just a whole lot of fun!

Seed balls solve many of the problems loose seeds face before they have the chance to grow.

Wind can blow seeds away, birds or rodents might eat them, the sun can bake out their vitality, and excessive rain can carry them off. Seed balls protect them from all of that.

A seed ball is a little ecosystem that protects the seeds inside before they sprout. Essentially, it’s a ball of soil, clay and seeds, that when thrown, dropped, or placed in the spot where you’d like the seeds to grow, (and after it receives some moisture or rain), the seed ball acts like a micro-garden that slowly starts to break down as the seeds inside begin to emerge.

The seeds are then nurtured in that same pile of clay and nourishing soil. and because of this, seed germination from seed balls is very high!

So enamoured with the concept, I immediately set out to make some. In fact, over the last decade, I’ve made thousands, distributing them across North America, in packages of a dozen to individuals, and bulk quantities to be passed out at all kinds of events.

I also make them just for me.

By customizing the variety of plants every year, depending on what seeds I saved, I make a batch to throw on the steep hill beyond our back yard. It has beautified an underused space with flowers that encourage pollinators!

Anyone can make seedballs! Here’s how:

Before you begin, and I learned this the hard way so you don’t have to, this can be a messy project, especially if kids are involved, so to save time and aggravation, don’t wear your best clothes, and remove your rings! – Now for the recipe!

  1. Mix two parts soil, two parts dry powdered clay, and a whole lot of seeds.
  2. The varieties here include a range of drought tolerant native species harvested from my own garden. However, you can use any flower seed, herbs, fruit or veggie.
  3. Next step is to add water.  Not too much, or too quickly, but enough to make the mixture damp. Stir it in slowly. If the mix is too dry, it won’t hold together so add a bit more. If the soil and clay become overly wet, the seeds will sprout before your finished seedballs get a chance to dry, which means you can’t store them to use at a later date. If the clump holds together, but won’t ooze water if you squeeze it, then that’s the perfect consistency.
  4. Then, roll the small clump in your hands into the size of a meatball and place them on trays to dry. If you’re fortunate enough to have a grow light stand, put them under the lights overnight. They’ll be almost completely dry the next day. If not, it will take a couple of days. Put them next to a heat register if you have room.
  5. Just a note to tie in with step 1 – If you’re using sunflower seeds which are large in size, I’d suggest rolling the balls first, then manually pushing a few seeds inside after.

Once they’re completely dry, they can be packaged and given as gifts to friends and family! This is a great project for kids, too.

If you’re really feeling motivated and want to make more, how about getting creative? Use a candy/soap mold to make different shape seed balls!

I picked up a heart shaped chocolate mold at a local thrift shop and have used it for years to make the heart shaped seed balls. They’ve been a favourite choice for wedding favours and for non-profits to hand out to volunteers at events.

Just to add, they’re really popular this time of year as a Valentine’s Day gift. Enjoy, and grow some love!