By STUART BRIMLEY
Seeds got smarter last summer. Some plants had a great time of growing, or a hard time of growing. The seeds that they made are better prepared for another season in their special places. So, maybe we should amend the initial statement: Some lucky seeds got smarter last summer.
Do you know how to tell the difference, or were you noticing which students had the right answer to last season’s big question? Can you clench the dried flower and have only the best seeds stick in your paw?
Why does selection matter when diversity is what we could go for? Diversity is what you say you want when the microphone gets switched on; the jury waits anxiously for your response.
“I selected these seeds for no particular reason, at no specific time, for no specific end,” you may say. “Let go of your crackling anxiety and just love the mustard mix for what it is, not what it could be.”
But why were you in that spot with your big paper bag bopping through the mustard patch dipping mostly the tallest stalks inside for a shake? Do you love the tallest mustards the best, or do you love the mustards that went to seed the soonest, with the most time to grow tall seed stalks? Was this the tastiest spot of the lot? Why are you here right now? What seeds will you save? What are you doing?
Seed saver, you are interacting with a special time, like an eclipse, or a glut of apples. It’s your big chance! You are bound to be overwhelmed.
Why, when and where you save seed are big questions to address throughout the season. You can get off the train periodically and ask yourself before arrival, “Where am I headed? Why was this mustard so healthy? Was it because it grew so close to the hose? Will the seeds be better for their cushy upbringing?”
“Should I look for seeds further from the hose who had it tough but still made a healthy run of it? Should I save both? I’m not resentful of the healthy plants that had such good water. In fact, I am happy that it made such a good plant. I bet these seeds will be great! Lucky me!”
Being so lucky, you can honour your luck and be choosy. One could put a tag on the earliest or most productive tomato plant. You may pull out some of the most bug-eaten mustards, and earliest to seed. You may even run what beans you can through a screen to separate the bigs from the smalls, eat the smalls and plant the bigs next spring. Just a little extra care to put more meaning into next year’s class. Only the best for your garden!
Here’s a mantra to end on. “This year, I am going to be smart and careful, and my seeds will soon reflect my values through the seasons. When I think about it, it’s just a little extra work to grow and save a bunch of my favourite seeds. My own seeds . . . I could grow my own seeds!”
Salt Spring Seedy Saturday is happening Feb. 11 at the Farmers’ Institute from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free workshops, seed exchange, ag advocacy, pancake fundraiser and kids zone. On Feb.12, join in for a Seed Growing Intensive Worskhop with two local seed experts. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writer is part of Seedy Saturday planning.