Thursday, January 8, 2009

Seeds from Another Garden

Several weeks ago I offered some seed from my garden. Some of it was saved from my garden and some was leftover seed that I wasn't going to plant this year. I didn't get any takers (still available - free for the taking), but I did get a couple of responses in the other direction.

Ottawa Gardener offered me some Cherokee Trail of Tears and Vermont Cranberry pole beans saved from his garden. These provided much excitement as they showed up in the mail yesterday. Then Ali from Henbogle offered me some Costata Romanesco seed. I'm awaiting that one with as much anticipation as my whole order from Pinetree.

A lot of people love to save seed and trade. They do it for all different reasons. One of the best is to keep rare breeds of plants alive. It is important to keep the genetic diversity of our food crops. One only has to look at the lesson of the 1970 corn blight to understand that issue.

However my desire is different. To me growing seed from another's garden reminds me of the person and their garden. It provides a connection. When I plant the seed, tend, harvest and eat it, I will think of them and their garden. If someone were to grow my dill seed and I saw it in the photos of their blog, I would know its history - over 10 years of self seeding here in my garden.

Because the seed has meaning, I'll work to save that seed every year and replant it. Maybe pass it along myself if I've saved enough. Beans are easy to save, they mostly self pollinate without any work. I'm hoping they are like peas and corn and show their differences if they actually do cross. Since they are dried beans I'll just save the best ones for planting (from the most prolific plants) and I'll eat the rest.

The zucchini will be a bit more work. I'll have to keep both the male and female blossom bee free and pollinate it by hand. I'll mark that squash and let it mature. I'm curious how big it will get when it ripens. It is a zucchini. I'm betting huge, but I've never actually had one of those baseball bats in my garden. I always pick them earlier.


  1. Gardeners are quite generous when it comes to seeds. I had a seed exchange in December and it was a great success. Congrats on getting some wonderful seeds for next season's garden. Can't wait to see the results!

  2. That is just so way super cool. I need to learn how to do this! The only seeds I seem to find easy to harvest are ones nobody wants or needs, like calendula or nigella, so I usually just sprinkle them back on the ground!

  3. Ali from Henbogle accidentally deleted the e-mail with your address. Will you please send it again? Thanks!

  4. PerennialGardener: I'll have to join in next year. Of course I also have to get better about collecting seed.

    Karen: Tomatoes, beans, peas and lettuce are pretty easy and lots of people want them. It is best if you separate them, but they really are mostly self pollinating so even if you grow them right next to one another the odds are really good the seed will be pure anyway. For other plants you need to know how far apart to separate the varieties to get true to seed plants, or isolate the flowers and hand pollinate like I'm going to do for the squash. Tomatoes have to be the easiest since you always pick tomatoes ripe and everyone wants tomatoes. The seed should be fermented but it is really easy (instructions all over the web, and on this site too).

    Ali: I've resent it :>

  5. Wow, my seeds are famous ;-) I love giving away seeds as I think they should be as much part of the public domain as possible. It is also wonderful to propogate history!