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How to Save Seeds for Next Year’s Garden

  • August 09, 2020

For five years, Seedshed has been working with the Mohawk Nation community of Akwesasne, growing traditional varieties of corn, beans, squash and sunflowers in the Akwesasne Seed Rematriation Garden, in partnership with the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, in Hurley, N.Y., with all seed harvests rematriated to the hands of the Akwesasne people. The project is named Kanenhaká:ion Tsiakwaiénthos, which translates as “old seed … we are planting again.”

Mr. Greene recalls giving a talk a few winters ago, when a slide on the screen prompted someone in the audience to blurt out: “Oh my god, peas are seeds!”

“I guess I’d glossed over that in the presentation up till then,” he said, laughing. Yes, peas are seeds — but they are not viable at the fresh-eating stage.

Most of us don’t know the entire life cycle of our food crops, just their edible moments.

“For me, gardening is being part of the full life cycle of the plant,” Mr. Greene said.

For beginning seed-savers, he recommended a few easy crops, including bush beans (“they cross-pollinate less than pole beans”) and peas; cilantro and dill; lettuce; and open-pollinated (non-hybrid) tomatoes.

With peas and beans, let the pods dry completely on the plant until they rattle when shaken. Harvest, open the pods and dry the seeds in a single layer on a screen in a well-ventilated place until thoroughly dry, which can take weeks.

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