By Connie Denney
A good friend and a good book are blessings not to be taken for granted. I don’t.
The time of year and seeing plants react to the weather—some thriving in the cool damp, some going brown as they wind down from their seasons of glory—renew an appreciation for a book I discovered several years ago and a friend I’ve known for years longer.
The book, titled “Seedswap,” is available at the Unicoi County Public Library, Nolichucky Avenue. Subtitled “The Gardener’s Guide to Saving and Swapping Seeds,” it covers ”…the what, who, how, and why of seed swapping and seed saving. It advises where to start and how to get involved with the worldwide horticultural campaign to ‘save our seeds.’” Written by Josie Jeffery, it was first published in England in 2012.
Easily held in one hand, its hardback boasts fall colors. Inside there are lovely illustrations and information we don’t usually walk around thinking about. For instance, “The oldest recorded seed to be germinated was from a Judean date palm, resurrected in 2005 from a 2,000-year-old seed at the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center, Israel.” Or, you may learn about the world’s smallest and largest seeds.
One chapter addresses Sourcing and Saving Seeds. It specifically explains, “Sourcing seeds from your local community is ideal, because plants adapt so well to where they are growing. Seed swaps or asking your neighbors if they have any surplus seeds is a good start, but sometimes this isn’t possible so stores and garden centers will be your next port of call.”
My friend puts action into the seed-saving words. The Seedman has earned the name over years since he was a young boy. When I talked with him about how he came to be a saver of seeds, he explained it was rooted in necessity. His Mom saved seeds and taught him to help. The nicest looking, best developed, ripest produce was likely to taste better and provide the best seed source. The seeds for vegetables came mostly from what she grew in the home garden, including tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn. Helping sow the seeds the next season and, then, gathering the resulting food made real the need to continue the cycle.
The work did not end with choosing and collecting seeds. Again, The Seedman knows, from having watched his Mom, about the drying and storing processes. For example, beans must be allowed to mature on the plant before collecting for further drying and storing. Jars, paper bags and envelopes are good for storage. Note: it is important to label the containers as to the type of seeds and date. Those from the previous season can, generally, be expected to yield better results than older ones.
He remembers his Mom’s advice to just put the seed in the ground and keep it moist. She enjoyed sharing flower seeds with neighbors or relatives. He enjoys that, too. So, The Seedman continues a tradition that has become a productive hobby. A green thumb? He says he saves and sows the seed. God makes the plant.
Much about our times is troubling. Among our human needs, food and food security rank high on the list. There is common ground in the wisdom to take the time to think about where food comes from and all that’s involved in putting it on the table. How’s that for planting a seed of food for thought!
Be safe. Stay safe.