Seeds of Life

Seeds have always been considered a symbol of rebirth. Think about it: a towering tree grows from one tiny seed. All life begins with a seed. Seeds contain life's embryos, the reproductive power, which provides all life.

Seeds contain all the important nutrients needed for human growth. They are excellent sources of protein and the essential unsaturated fatty acids, and seeds are the best natural sources of lecithin, the B-complex vitamins, and vitamin E. Seeds provide the most important elements for the prevention of premature ageing, they are rich sources of minerals, and seeds supply the necessary bulk needed in our daily diets.

Nuts are actually seeds, and nuts and seeds are the most important and potent of all foods. Raw nuts are among the foods highest in fat, but the fat in nuts is completely natural and unprocessed, which is actually necessary for the body. We keep our car engines oiled, right? Well, we need to keep our bodies oiled, too. And, nuts are especially rich in linoleic acid, which is healthy for our heart and arteries.

Human beings require seeds for food production. Either seeds of edible plants are collected and sown for food, such as vegetables and fruit, or the seed itself is used for food, such as rice, wheat, and corn.

In agriculture, collecting seeds from superior parent stock has been practiced for thousands of years. Seed saving is as old as agriculture, yet today, most people don't collect seeds anymore and have become reliant on seed companies and highly bred hybrids for our plant seeds. Actually, most people don't even eat seeds anymore; either throwing them away or spitting them out. Sadly, this may be one of mankind's biggest mistakes.

As the current climate continues to change and world economies falter, it would be prudent to start collecting seeds again. Growing your own garden is a good solution to higher grocery prices and the changing times ahead. Renewed interest in the importance of maintaining seed lines has led to the formation of seed saving organizations and companies that supply open-pollinated seeds.

Open pollination is when pollination occurs naturally. Flowers either self-pollinate or cross-pollinate. Self-pollinating flowers, such as beans and carrots, give fairly reliable seed. Cross-pollinators, such as pumpkins and zucchinis, are highly variable, so hand pollination is necessary to ensure you get what you want.

Michel and Jude Fanton offer some good suggestions in their book The Seed Savers Handbook (The Seed Savers' Network, PO Box 975 Byron Bay, NSW. 2481, 1993).

Storing Seeds: Seed viability depends on airtight storage in a dry, dark, cool place. The garden shed is usually the worst place because of temperature fluctuations and rodent damage. If space permits, the fridge is ideal. A good alternative might be under the bed. A Ziplock plastic bag inside glass jars work well. Remember that seeds, when exposed to air, have a limited life and the minute a sealed container is opened, the seed will start to age. Labeling is important. Include the date and place of collection, as well as the name of the source variety.

Many seeds require "stratifying", or storage for a certain period in the crisper in the fridge to replicate winter conditions before planting. For example, parsnips require six weeks in the fridge, while carrots need no special treatment before planting. Check out if your veggies have any special requirements, as this can save a lot of time and effort by finding these things out early.

Collecting Seeds: Select a plant that has desirable characteristics such as early bearing, late bolting, good size, good flavor, disease resistance, drought-hardiness, etc. It is essential that the seeds mature fully before harvest. With beans and peas, this means leaving the pods to dry on the vine. For fleshy fruits such as tomatoes, spread the seeds on paper towels or newspaper to dry. Some pulps contain a germination inhibitor, so the seed should be washed in water before drying and storing. The inclusion of extraneous material such as dried stalks may be unavoidable, but won't affect the seed when it is planted out.

Collecting seeds and planning your own garden and food sources is an investment in your future. Hey, these ARE the seeds of life!

Posted September 2011 | Permanent Link

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