Seed saving has many benefits, and though saving money might be the first thing you think of, there are much more.
In permaculture, our aim is to not just tread lightly but to regenerate. Saving your seeds saves a lot of energy. The energy that it took you to make money to buy the seeds, the energy it took the manufacturers to grow, pick, package and transport. Often we are unsure of the quality, they could be old, non-viable, come from unhealthy or genetically modified plants. You know the quality of the seed and the plant when you select it yourself and this is where you can select desired characteristics and traits that you would like. You might select seeds based on strength and vigour of a plant if it produces big fruit because it ripens earlier or maybe because of taste. Season after season of this selection process you are breeding plants with these desired characteristics you want to continue and build upon.
Plants also become accustomed to their environment so growing them in your garden season after season they are remembering your soil, sun, rainfall and other conditions and this is becoming encoded in its genes, so each following season they will be better adapted to your site to thrive.
Now to the more serious side of seed saving. We save seeds for our security and that of the earth and ecosystem we find ourselves a part of. Nature is built upon diversity, so many different species, subspecies all with their different functions their special roles each species of plant being home or food to thousands, maybe millions of different animals and insects. Diversity makes a very resilient system. If we stop cultivating different species and all buy the same few types of seeds offered at shops or buy the very few types of vegetables at shopping centres and not grow our own diverse range we are losing this diversity and weakening the system.
In India there were 130,000 types of rice, today there is around 1,500. Many other species are following the same trend. In Panama some years ago there was a disease that came through and wiped out the main variety of coconut that was being cultivated but it didn’t affect any of the other species of coconut, this example shows the importance of diversity.
Most concerning though is saving seeds from the security of people, groups or companies without the best interests of the human community or planet at heart. If you control seeds, then you control food and ultimately you control life. There are company’s producing terminator seeds. These are seeds that have been genetically modified to only produce a plant for one season and the next season they are nonviable and therefore you have to purchase the seed each time you want to grow. An evil ploy!
If each individual, family and community are saving seeds then we have a very strong resilient system. Much safer than if we are to keep our seeds in one place. Less susceptible to fire, flood, disease, pests and theft or control.
The best place to get started is your neighbourhood or community garden. Visit and see the guys that have been growing food for generations in your area. They could have seeds that have been super bred for your climate and conditions. Or look to nature and see what fruit trees grow well in your area and save seeds and start cultivating them. If these are not viable options there are reputable online organic seed companies where you can order and buy organic seeds.
Seed Saving Tips
- Think about the natural seed dispersal system of each plant and take the seed when the plant is naturally ready to give it up.
- Leave seeds to ripen on the plant.
- You may need to wash off the seeds.
- Place the small delicate seeds on paper or hard surface and leave in an airy dry place, not in direct sunlight.
- Once dry store in a labelled paper bag/container away from rodents with name and date.
- Store at a stable room temperature.
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