Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saving Seeds: Southern Seed Legacy Project

As next year’s seed catalogues begin to arrive (I’ve received two already!), it may be useful to note one great seed resource for Southern gardeners that doesn’t blanket the South with catalogues: the Southern Seed Legacy Project, based in UGA’s Anthropology Department, whose “ objective is to keep southern agrobiodiversity alive, not in gene banks, but in the fields and gardens of people. . .” A link to the homepage for this project is located on the sidebar of this blog, in the section titled Georgia Gardening and Food.

The Project keeps Southern agrobiodiversity alive through locating and saving heirloom Southern seeds, then growing them out both at UGA’s Agrarian Connections farm and through the Pass Along Southern Seed program, which gives seeds to member-gardeners to grow out. Member-gardeners then return a portion of seed from the grown-out crop to the program, so more is available to other gardeners, and they also share a portion with another gardener.

Many of the seeds available through the program are different varieties of Southern Peas, which are great for beginners to try as an introduction to seed saving. Southern peas (crowder peas, black-eye peas, cowpeas) grow and produce really well in the South, the flowers self-pollinate and are not subject to a lot of cross-pollination, and the seed is also the plant-part that is eaten, so saving the seeds is easy!

Saving your own seeds from the garden is a way to make sure that a particular variety endures, but it also is a great way to save money on gardening; fewer seeds need to be purchased each year! Anyone who has never tried might want to check a local library for Suzanne Ashworth’s book Seed to Seed, or, for a quick introduction, check the website of the International Seed Saving Institute for basic information on saving seeds from garden plants.

Reading up on seed saving now could lead to some great ideas for next year’s garden.

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