Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saving seeds

Blunt About Food is ideally a blog about my two avocations:  cooking and gardening.  This post will introduce you to the latter of those two passions, and hopefully shed some light on who I am.

I've been a seed saver and gardener since I first interned at Abundant Life in 1991.  But well before that, I studied ethnobotany at Evergreen and decided, "That makes a lot of sense".  Even before that, I came to the conclusion that if all hell broke loose, I'd want at least to be able to grow my own food.

I inherited the gardening gene big time.  There are many in my extended family who tend a garden, but according to my parents, there are a handful of us who are UNABLE TO KEEP OUR HANDS OUT OF THE DIRT.  This is not a hobby, people.  It is an integral part of who I am.

My cousin, Dan Quickert, shares this trait.  He has been an avid organic gardener for decades, and has quite admirably done a bit of plant breeding along the way.  Last spring, he sent me about 40 seeds of a purple-podded snow pea he developed and named "Midnight Snow".

Here are some fresh results of what grew from those seeds.

Midnight Snow Pea
The pea vines were crazy vigorous - reaching 7 feet tall before they started producing their lovely violet blossoms.  The pods were sweet and abundant; however, I was on a mission to save seeds and so I limited my edible harvest to what's in the photo.  The rest kept growing until the vines stopped sending energy to the pods and began to yellow.

With the help of Lisa (who was visiting from San Diego), I harvested the already-dying pea vines, and laid them on wire racks to finish developing and drying the pea seeds.

Tonight I shelled all the peas, and this is what I got:

Pea seeds ready for planting next spring
These seeds weigh 20 ounces, and 40 seeds equal 1/4 ounce, so my efforts were rewarded 80-fold!  I feel wonderful about this success.  I will send the majority back to Dan, and keep some for myself to grow next year.

There is something special about saving seeds.  It requires sacrifice; with most crops, saving seed means you won't be eating that fruit or vegetable.  It requires vision; you must think early about which plants you'll be saving for seed and designate them to that task.  It requires optimism; you are doing this for future gardens.  These are qualities I don't mind developing in myself as well.

1 comment:

  1. I love the picture of the Midnight Snow Peas - pure art!