Seeds are life. Learn How To Grow Yours | Local News

LAURA GARBER Homestead Organics

Have you ever thought about where your garden seeds come from? Most of the seed packets come from companies that are giant corporations, located far from here. The seeds are probably grown under drastically different conditions than our growing season in Montana.

Many big seed companies try to monopolize the seed industry by reducing or restricting the variety of seeds available, patenting seeds or traits, treating seeds with toxic fungicides and herbicides, selling seeds hybrids and generally blocking our seed resources. We also know that industrial agriculture, which relies on this unfair and unhealthy seed system, is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions as well as toxic chemicals. And it is also one of the main causes of social disparity.

Luckily, many of the things we eat and can grow in our Montana gardens are also things we can grow seeds for too! By growing our own seeds and purchasing seeds grown in Montana, we can secure this vital resource. By growing plants for seed in our gardens, we adapt seeds and plants to our climate, manage the varieties we love most, and take control of our seeds and food back from the corporate powers that don’t have our interest in mind.

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Seeds are the key to life, they are the place of origin of all the plants we eat. The seeds are our link to our great-grandmothers, who kept the seed lines strong and available. Seeds are our connection to the wisdom of generations past. As seed saviors, we also connect with future generations. Seeds are the key to life, they are the place of origin of all the plants we eat. We must not forget to take care of our seeds or allow big corporations to treat our seeds like commodities. Seeds are our living history, our connection to the past and the future, and are the source of resilience on earth. We can and we must save the seeds!

You don’t have to cultivate acres of crops or drive a big tractor or even sell food at a farmers market to be a seed steward. When we collect and save seeds, we become part of the way forward, part of the future.

Here are some basics to get you started on your seed saving journey.

Basic plant reproduction:

Types of plants we save garden seeds from:

*Annuals produce seeds in one year ex. Lettuce, beans, peas, dill, coriander, calendula, radish, sunflower, tomatoes

*Biennials produce seed in the second year e.g. Carrots, beets, onions, cabbage

*Auto pollinator (Selfers), closed flower ex. Peas, beans, tomatoes

*Pollination by wind e.g. Beets, corn (smooth and light pollen)

*Pollinated insects e.g. Cabbage family, carrots (sticky or barbed pollen)

Dioecious VS Monoecious in flowering:

*Dioecious plants such as spinach: each individual plant is either female or male

* Monoecious plants – most garden plants: each individual plant has both male and female reproductive parts

*Squashes have monoecious flowers: each flower is either male (staminate) or female (pistillate)

Easy plants to start saving seeds now:

Broccoli, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes, calendula, dill, coriander, radish

* Grow several of the plants whose seeds you want to save

* Blush/eliminate anyone who doesn’t look well or gets sick

* Harvest seed heads in fall, protect mature plants from fall rainfall

* Broccoli – start as early as possible, sow or transplant outdoors in late April through early June. Harvest the main cola and enjoy, then let the side shoots bloom.

*Lettuce – seed or transplant outdoors from late April to early July

* Peas – sow outdoors until the end of July, harvest the very first peas to eat

* Beans – sow outdoors until the end of June, harvest the very first beans to eat, protect them from frost at the end of the season

* Tomatoes – collect the inner juice of a delicious tomato and save the seed

* Calendula – sow outdoors until mid-June, collect seed heads

* Dill – sow outdoors until mid-June, collect seed heads

* Cilantro – sow outdoors until mid-June, cut once to eat, then let grow to seed

* Radish – sow outdoors until mid-June, thin to a Shaka between each radish and let grow to seed

Plan now for next year! * Sow carrots and beets in late June, store them over winter and replant them in the spring and let them grow to seed! *Sow cabbage or kale in mid-August / transplant in late September, protect over winter and let it grow to seed in spring!

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