This month we asked two experienced staff members at Seed Savers Exchange to share their knowledge about saving seeds from biennials. Our Field Manager, Bryan Stuart, and one of our Field Technicians, Trevor Madsen, took the time to answer a few questions about biennial plants. Read on for their detailed responses or click through the slideshow for some quick biennial seed saving steps.Read More
Part of the responsibility that comes with maintaining a seed collection containing over 20,000 rare garden varieties includes testing for and eradicating viruses and diseases. This week the staff in our Preservation Department were busy performing ELISA tests (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests) to identify any squash specimens infected with the squash mosaic virus (SMV). Roughly 1,000 seedlings were tested from 28 varieties.Read More
Are you an apartment dweller with a green thumb? Or a novice who's daunted by the thought of a full-blown garden? Well, don’t fear because we’re here with a list of lovely varieties that thrive in containers. And we’re here to tell you that you don’t need a yard to be a seed saver.Read More
Nothing brings your cooking to the next level like fresh garden herbs. We've chosen some of our favorites for you, but we can't wait to hear about your preferred varieties and your favorite ways to use them!Read More
The time has come to get your tomato plants started so they're ready to transfer outside once the warm weather officially settles in. Take a look at this winter's top ten favorite heirloom tomato varieties and let them inspire your upcoming garden.Read More
Some people mistakenly believe that farmers have a “down season.” Without the twelve hour days harvesting and weeding, a winter spent reviewing crop spreadsheets and lounging by a wood stove might feel like vacation. Winter: that mythical space between the last harvest and first plantings, where all wrinkles get ironed out and new vortexes of time are uncovered. Day trips? Sleeping in? Hanging out with friends? Everything seems possible now, within this precious window. Winter slows everyone's roll, it’s true, but farmers are often working throughout the seemingly dormant season.Read More
In our grandparents' day seed saving was just part of gardening.
Store-bought seed, like store-bought anything, was a luxury for my Grandma. She could only afford to order what she couldn’t easily save- for instance, the seeds of biennial vegetables like carrot, cabbage, beets and kohlrabi. The whole community saved their garden seed back then. It was as natural to gardening as planting and harvesting crops. I helped my Grandfather pluck the seeds off his morning glories each fall and never thought I was doing anything out of the ordinary. The seed—along with the skills on how to save the seed—was passed down from generation to generation.
Over the years, this seed saving component of the garden has vanished and garden seed has become something you simply purchase each year from your favorite catalog or garden center. It is understandable, then, why new gardeners would not be aware of how their seeds were produced in the first place, and so the process is often perceived as somewhat mysterious.
Today, planning your garden for seed saving is really not that much different or any more difficult than it was back in the days of my grandparents. Some of my garden favorites like tomatoes, beans, peas and lettuce are self-pollinating crops that don’t readily cross, so they’re easy to save. Of course you must have non-hybrid varieties so the seed your harvest and plant will produce the same variety as the parent plant (read more about open-pollinated, hybrid, and heirloom seeds here).
This past year I was pleased to be involved in creating a new Seed Saving Collection for the Seed Savers Exchange catalog. This starter kit includes some of our popular varieties that could be grown side by side in one garden, plus step-by-step seed saving instructions for each crop type. I’m excited to offer a solution for all those gardeners who thought seed saving was somehow difficult. It’s easy to become a seed saver!
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.
Although seed maturity can often be evaluated by simply touching or viewing the fruit or vegetable, SSE’s Farm Manager Bryan Stuart has a more unique approach for some seeds - he chews on them.Read More
When I grab a basket and go to my garden to gather fresh vegetables and herbs, it's like going to my own little market. I look at gardening as a good workout and a chance to listen to the sounds of nature.
My favorite summertime recipes are those that require one trip to the garden to gather most of the ingredients, such as the following.
This recipe, as seen in the 2009 Seed Savers Exchange calendar, was a prize winner in the 2002 Food for Thought Recipe Contest in Madison, Wisconsin and printed in From Asparagus to Zucchini, a cookbook sponsored by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition.
I used the 'Amish Paste' tomato in this recipe. The healthy vines are producing blemish-free, flavorful red fruit that is excellent for fresh eating as well as preserving. Our growing season started out very wet and cool, and despite the dry weather since then, these plants continue to produce beautiful, tasty fruit.
The green beans I used were 'Ideal Market' and 'Purple Podded Pole' which are both very productive varieties. The Ideal Market produces colorful blossoms, and of course the Purple Podded Pole plant is decorative in all stages.
Prizewinner Green Beans with Tomatoes and Herbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes ½ cup sliced onions 2 teaspoons dried ground thyme ¼ cup water 1 pound green beans, ends clipped, cut in half 1 sprig rosemary, leaves torn off the stem 2 medium tomatoes cut into wedges Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant. Add onions, sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add water, thyme, and green beans. Stir. Cover, and steam-cook beans until nearly done, 10-15 minutes. Stir in rosemary and tomatoes. Cook briefly, until tomatoes are warmed through. Season as necessary. Serves 4.
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.
Did you know that nylon stockings make the ultimate, multipurpose tool? They keep legs warm and physical imperfections under wraps; they are maggot barriers for emerging apples; and, in a pinch, they're nice material for that last minute bungee cord. But we at Seed Savers have been privy to a very unsung use for the common pantyhose: they make a darned safe way to mail your prized heirloom seeds.Read More