The past three and a half years with Grow Appalachia have taught me a lot, but one of the things I’ve really grown to love and appreciate is seed saving. There are so many seed varieties that are unique to the Appalachian region as a whole, and many seed varieties that are unique to the area around Pine Mountain. I’ve been blessed to receive gifts of seed from participants over the years, and this year I used most of the PMSS staff garden space to grow out a couple of these varieties for seed to distribute to participants of the 2014 Grow Appalachia program.
My greatest discovery upon moving to Pine Mountain was fall beans. I believe that fall beans (sometimes called October beans) are fairly rare these days, but there are still a few varieties being grown. I’m not sure why this type of bean is called a “fall/October bean” because they do not take much longer to mature than any other pole bean. They can be eaten fresh as a green bean, or they can be dried and shelled out to eat. They produce a large bean in a flattened pod, and many varieties are string-less. Yes, you heard me correctly; many fall bean varieties are a climbing pole bean that produces a large bean and are also string-less. Red Eyed Fall beans are a favorite around PMSS. This year a Grow Appalachia participant asked if I had any “striped fall bean seed”, so I bought a packet of Roger Newsome Fall bean seed from Bill Best of Sustainable Mountain Agriculture center during our annual seed swap. I grew out Bill’s packet, ate a few messes for supper, and saved about 2,500 seeds to distribute during 2014!
Other varieties I grew for seed this year include:
Granny beans (originally from Breathitt County via Frank Barnett)
Cream Colored Six Week Beans (via Viola Cooper of Harlan County)
Aunt Bess Beans from Pine Mountain Settlement School
Red Cow Peas (via Gary Saylor of Leslie County)- to learn more about cow peas please read Kathleen’s blog from earlier this summer
A yellow tomato I am calling “Deb’s tomato” because a Grow Appalachia participant named Deb originally gave us some of these amazing tomatoes
Our participants also grew some seeds as gifts to the program this year:
Ora Cornett six week beans from Johnny Halcomb
Hickory King Corn from Kathryn Turner
After becoming interested in seed saving, I read the wonderful book The Seed Underground by Janisse Ray, which was a lovely read I would recommend to anyone.
For great instructions on seed saving, check out the seed saving sheet from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
For easy tomato seed saving instructions (that I had 100% germination from) look at the information sheet from Baker Creek.
For more information about seed saving, read Kathleen’s blog from August 2012 .