The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving
I realize we still have over three months until Christmas. But, if you have a serious gardener in the family I have the perfect gift. The Seed Garden is the perfect book for anyone devoted to growing their own edible garden. The text is edited by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Siegel and published by Seed Savers Exchange.
This comprehensive book is divided into two sections. Seven chapters make up the first section. Each chapter has beautiful illustrations. The photos emphasize the points made in the writing and aid the reader in grasping the information.
The largest portion of the book falls in the second section. Here the reader finds profiles of over one hundred edible plants. However, they are listed alphabetically by their Latin name. Fortunately, the editors provide a directory listing both the common and scientific names. Beautiful photos accompany this section as well.
In the first section, the reader may revisit knowledge studied in either a biology or agriculture class. Since I took both a long time ago, a review was helpful. Even though the book does not cover everything you would learn in a semester long class, your knowledge of seeds will expand. Saving seed is truly an art.
Basic biology covering the reproductive system of plants is an early focus of The Seed Garden. The book discusses the taxonomy of the plants. Apparently the genetic differences dictate how the seeds are pollinated.
Prior to buying The Seed Garden, my experiments in saving seed met with mixed results. My yellow squash seeds produced fruit that were half green. They still tasted like squash even though the second generation altered in looks. The book explains why this happens and how to correct for the problem.
Another thing I learned from The Seed Garden is the need to ferment tomato seeds. The process, which is necessary to rid the seeds of natural germination inhibitors is wonderfully documented with step by step instructions. Once again, the editors use beautiful photos to enhance the writing.
I plan to try this process on a volunteer tomato plant. One of the local nurseries decided not to reopen this spring and I was unable to find a long-time favorite heirloom variety anywhere else. Luckily this year ma volunteer appeared. Next year’s planting won’t be left to chance.
The Seed Garden is a welcome addition to my garden library. The writing is in-depth, so I would recommend it for those truly interested in gardening. This is not a beginning how-to book, but instead is written at a master level. In addition to being an excellent gift idea, this book should appear in the reference section of public and school libraries.