Seed swap teaches gardeners how to successfuly save seeds

For many people, the first hint of spring comes by mail in the form of colourful seed catalogues.

But for some folks, garden planning for 2018 began during last year’s harvest.

They collected seeds from the best tasting plants, carefully saved them and are now planning where they will be planted when the snow melts away.

Golden’s Annual Seed Swap is an opportunity for those with saved seeds to swap with others and, for those of us who want to learn how to save seeds, to gain an understanding from local experts.

With so many seed companies offering seeds of all types for sale, why would anyone go to the bother of saving seed?

Here are some reasons:

– If you grew a vegetable that did well in your garden, saving its seeds helps you preserve strains adapted to our specific growing conditions here in Golden and Area A.

– If one of your veggies was particularly delicious, saving the seed will allow you to grow the same tasty vegetable again.

– Saving and trading your own seeds reduces your gardening costs and allows you to experiment with interesting local varieties.

– It’s just plain fun. Come out to the Seed Swap to learn how to do it.

Even if you didn’t save seeds from last year’s garden, come to the Seed Swap to learn how to do it successfully this coming season. Many gardeners will share excess seed with beginners.

The science of botany explores all the amazing details of how plants make seeds. Luckily, it is very easy to learn enough to save seeds just by being observant in your garden. However, there is one important bit of botany that you need to know before going to the seed swap and for this I will refer to notes from our local seed saver guru, Jean Dakin.

We know that seeds are created when flowers are pollinated. Both the male pollen and the female plant parts each carry the genetic material from the plant they came from and the resulting seed has both sets of characteristics.

If the seed is formed by pollination by the same variety of plant, it will grow the same as those two plants; lettuce grown from local Provenzano lettuce will grow into another Provenzano lettuce. These are often called “open pollinated” seeds. If one wants to add characteristics of two different varieties of a particular vegetable, the result is a “hybrid”. Many seeds you buy are hybrids and they reliably grow into the plant that is described on the seed packet. However, if you save and plant the seeds that form on a hybrid plant, you can’t be sure which characteristics will show up; they commonly fail to grow “true” to the parent plant. That’s why seed savers swap open-pollinated or non-hybrid seeds.

An excellent website to visit is that of Seeds of Diversity Canada. This non-profit organization is a reliable source of information about seed saving.

Seeds of Diversity exists to search out, preserve, perpetuate, study, and encourage the cultivation of heirloom and endangered varieties of food crops.

It also educates the public about the importance of these varieties and their need for continued cultivation and preservation.

Seeds of Diversity also hosts the Canadian Seed Library, which is a collection of more than 2,900 regionally adapted and rare seed varieties.

They also promote bee friendly farming, and other projects.

There will be knowledgeable presenters at the Golden Seed Swap next week who will share how to grow and save the most viable seeds you can in your front yard, back yard, and beyond.

Next week, there will be an article describing germination tests, and how to prepare your saved seeds for the swap.

The Seed Swap is on Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Golden Museum.

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