Heirloom Seeds Part 1: The Importance of Seed Saving & How to Select The Best Seeds

in gardening •  2 years ago  (edited)

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Seed saving might seem like a fun, frugal and gardening thing to do but its so much more important than that. In the face of dwindling agricultural biodiversity, saving open pollinated seeds might just save the worlds food supply some day. Keeping your own seeds is an important part of being food secure. Don't just take my word for it though, the existence of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault speaks volumes!

Nature provides seeds that adapt to our climate continuously, free of charge. It's been tried and true for thousands of years. The bees love it. The birds love it. We should treasure Heirloom seeds.

If you are new to seed saving, it might seem a bit daunting but I assure you, nature has for the most part made it quite easy. This post is the first in a series on seeds. In this series we'll cover everything from the importance of seeds, how to save seeds, how to start seeds, correct storage and so much more!

First lets talk about types of seeds

Not all seeds are created equal and to demonstrate this I am going to talk about "heirloom seeds" and Genetically Modified "hybrid" seeds.

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Heirloom Seeds

Heirloom seeds are like the open source version of software - free to trade - free to save - free to grow. Heirloom seeds create natural diversity within plant populations. This means that the seeds that you plant will adapt to the growing conditions of your garden. Year after year the seeds that you save will become stronger and more reliable in your climate. This is why you can find 5000+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

GMO/hybrid seeds

Hybrid seeds are often advertised as being tough, resistant to common diseases and other things that sound pretty good to a gardener. The issue is that in nature, these seeds would not exist. Smart people in a laboratory have scientifically and genetically modified these seeds. This often involves crossing species in a Frankenstein like manner to achieve the desired result. There aren't many varieties to choose from which is why you'll find such a small selection of vegetables at your grocery store. These seeds are patented and it's illegal for farmers to save seed. If you did save these seeds the results are said to be unreliable because of all of the generic alterations. The GMO model contradicts nature and the free spirit of seeds.

Where to Find Heirloom Seeds

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Look for open pollinated, or heirloom seed suppliers on-line. I have put together on Walkerland for Canadian Heirloom Seed Suppliers organized by province. Talk to gardeners in your area and see if you can get some seeds from them. If they are anything like me they'll have all kinds of seeds to give to you. You can also call the local library or farmers market and find out if there are any local seed exchanged coming up.

Next we'll talk about selecting the best seeds for your climate and starting seeds indoors because spring is coming! :)


[@walkerland ]
Building a greener, more beautiful world one seed at a time.
Homesteading | Gardening | Frugal Living | Preserving Food| From Scratch Cooking|

You can also find me at: walkerland.ca

Photo copyright: @walkerland

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I didn’t realize it was actually illegal to save non-heirloom seeds. That’s one of those laws that has me scratching my head wondering exactly how the authorities propose to enforce it.

well they can't enforce it with you but they certainly do with farmers. I'll find and share a short video that really tells this story well. It's so profound that it makes me cry when I watch it.

I think it is important to distinguish between GMO and Hybrid seeds as they are different. GMO seeds are the Frankenstein seeds were a virus is used to create the genetic change.

Hybrid seeds are simply seeds that are cross pollinated with a different species. In a garden, for example you can create a Hybrid seed of Pumpkin and Zucchini just by planting these plants next to each other. The result is a orange zucchini looking fruit. The same with different types of tomatoes. Sometimes these plants can reproduce but most of the time these plants will be sterile and cannot reproduce. This is why heirloom seeds are the best for the garden and seed saving, when cross pollination is controlled to the same variety you can create a variety heirloom that will thrive in your local environment.

Your posts never cease to amaze me!!! I see your name pop up on ginabot and I can't wait to get over here and read!!

This year I am starting my BIG seeds saving project and I am so excited for it!

I am a total nature geek - just love writing about it - I am also turning into a steemit geek but I need to start rationing my time, I've got work to do :) What is ginabot? Is this something I should know about?

I would love to read more about your BIG seed saving project!

ginabot is an alert and notification set up in Discord

https://steemit.com/@ginabot

It is so helpful when I am looking for certain keywords or people

thank you. I am reading about it more. I really need to get onto discord. That's a new platform for me as well.

It is very easy to use and a GREAT tool to have for connecting

Very informative! And your garden is beautiful! :)

thanks!

Thank you for contributing your knowledge to help others! The Sotall Community has linked to your post here.. If you write any future articles with instructions on how to do any tasks related to a homestead or survival, to ensure they are added to the directory, please submit them. They will be added as soon as possible.

Hey! I noticed you didn't mention F1 seeds: how do you feel about them? Also, do you have any issues in Canada with seeds being purportedly heritage, but having been sterilised (for "hygiene" purposes I guess)? Now I'm off to read the rest of your series...

I only deal with small seed nurseries and we share the same values so I've never encountered such a problem. I suppose anything from a big box store could have issues of that nature, especially if the seeds have been imported from other countries but I am not aware of any issues like that, I am quite behind on the news and such. We are really lucky in Canada to have a grass roots movement of small scale heirloom seed cultivators all over the country. There's a lot of pride and love behind these businesses so that's who I support.

Your F1 question is a good one. Do you think I over simplified my explanations? Adding that next tier of F1 seeds & naturally wild crossed seeds .... seemed overly complicated for a beginners guide. Do you think I did people a disservice by not breaking it down even more?

A disservice? No, not at all! But the more I look into seeds, the more complicated it seems to get. I really do think that unless you personally know the seed grower (or somebody honest who does), the chances are that something unnatural has been done to the seeds at some point. And, considering how deeply many people feel about their food and seeds (thank goodness, too!), it seems a shame that so many of them are in a way being fooled... I really envy you in Canada and my friends in France where it is still possible to get pure seed, but I think the situation here in Japan is unfortunately probably more typical. Anyway, you don't need to go into the details: maybe just pointing out that if there is a number at the end of a seed variety's name, it's probably not for serious growers. Either way, you're doing a great job and I look forward to the next installments!