Over winter, I hope to explore seed saving in my blog. I feel quite guilty as I don’t make much of an effort to save seeds from my plants, despite being such an avid gardener. The main reason is because autumn, the time of the year when most seeds are harvested, coincides with typically the busiest time in the garden. The summer plants are often at their peak and it is a mission to stay on top of the harvest. Much time is spent in the kitchen helping my mother prepare delicious meals with our produce. I am also busy raising seedlings for the winter garden and slowly starting to prepare and plant the garden beds for the coming season. There are simply not enough hours in the day to save seeds on top of this. Also seed saving requires keeping plants in the garden when they're past their prime, which of course takes up space. Sometimes I get a bit impatient and want to pull out finished plants to make room for new season's seedlings. That has long been the way that it was, but I have decided that this is simply not good enough. This year, I want to make a conscious effort to save seeds from some of my plants. I don’t intend to try to save seeds from all of them because that’s too ambitious for someone who is just starting out saving their own seeds. I do admit to liking certain hybrid varieties, especially for container tomatoes, which makes seed saving futile because seed saved from hybrids probably won’t come true to type. Furthermore, I enjoy growing lots of different cucurbit varieties and they have a tendency to cross-pollinate, meaning that seed saved from these plants probably won’t be true to type.
So what has brought about this change of position? The following two reasons:
Prakesh, a man that lives down our street, is a real inspiration to me. He is from Fiji. Wandering around his garden, you might mistakenly think you are actually in Fiji. His garden is mainly an assortment of Indian veggies, herbs and fruit trees. I spent some time over at his place on Sunday afternoon, walking around his garden as he talked me through what he is growing. Prakesh is a diligent seed saver. He needs to be because there is no way of sourcing what he has in his garden from seed suppliers. He showed me his seed drawer, which contains an assortment of seeds which he has saved from his garden over the years, all carefully labelled and dated. He kindly gave me some seeds from his garden, which you can see in the picture above. I was so impressed with his efforts and it was the impetus I needed to change my old cycle of simply growing, producing and pulling out plants at the end of the season, only to purchase more seeds of the same varieties the following winter for the next season. This just doesn’t make sense, financially or otherwise. The saying start small, think big comes to mind when I think about my plans for seed saving this year. I would like to start with saving seed from the extra hot chilli seeds I will be growing in our garden, thanks to seeds kindly given to me by my gardening friends Minette Tonoli, Robin Sharrock and Anthony Smith. I will write more about these special varieties when I come to sow them in the coming months. This will be a separate blog subject.
To close, the other person who I really admire for her seed saving efforts is the lovely Stella from Running Brook seeds. Over the years, Stella has amassed an enormous collection of seeds from her seed saving efforts and has an incredible catalogue, which you can view here. I had a lovely conversation with Stella over the phone a few days ago, as I was looking for boda beans (or cowpeas) and wanted to check whether what she had listed in her catalogue corresponded with what I was looking for. Again, to expect to be like Stella in my first season of seed saving is completely unrealistic. But it is great to have good role models such as Prakesh and Stella to inspire and motivate me in my own efforts.