Growing season is upon us and it is time to start thinking about seeds. One of our participants was doing just that as she organized a seed swap for our community. Karen and Sam Peck worked very hard to bring the community together around seeds. If you are reading this, you probably already know that seeds are the heartbeat of the garden. Saving seeds is vital to the continuation of the varieties we all know and love. Selective seed saving is how we got corn from grass, and how we pick out new varieties of tomatoes, from Mr. Stripey to Beefsteak to the sweetest Cherry Tomatoes.
We had around 25 participants, 5 of whom were children, 5 were men, and 15 were women, and many seeds were swapped. Some of the swap participants were absolute beginners and we had a lot of fun picking out seeds they would love to eat and which would be easy for a beginner to grow. Some were old pros who were involved in landrace corn production and who had some seed that was almost unheard of in our area available to swap. All in all, we had a wonderful time talking and learning about seeds.
Selective Seed Saving and Landrace Varieties
Selective Seed Saving means each year as you start to save seed that you would like to keep from your garden, you pick out qualities and traits you would like to have the next year. For example, you can save for early or late producers, for sweetness, for size, or even for color. That’s the beauty of it; you can save for whatever traits you like. If you do this continually over many growing seasons, you can even develop your own variety.
A landrace is defined by Merriam Webster as: a local variety of a species of plant or animal that has distinctive characteristics arising from development and adaptation over time to conditions of a localized geographic region and that typically displays greater genetic diversity than types subjected to formal breeding practices. Essentially, a landrace variety was developed by selective seed saving in a geographic region (such as the Appalachian Mountains). In other words, we could start our own landrace varieties if we were to start saving seeds and pick the ones that grow best in our area.
To learn more about Landrace Gardening, check out https://goingtoseed.org/collections/courses.
For more information on our program, please check out https://tinyurl.com/LeeMasterGardeners.