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Why do you save seeds &/or pursue landrace gardening?

 
pollinator
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I'm not really sure where to post this, but it speaks of seed saving, so here it is.  

This is meant to be an exercise in self-reflection for those deep thinkers out there.  

The simple question with a maybe not so simple answer:  Why do YOU save seeds?

Dig deep into your inner thoughts for this one.  Peel back the layers to get down to the core reasons about why it's important to you.

Personally, I think there's a general feeling amongst many that it's a good idea to be more self-reliant in as many areas of their lives as able, even if they can't understand exactly why they feel that way.  I think it has to do with the basic need to feel secure, & in my opinion, the first step after having a safe place to live, is to have food security.  I think it's really interesting how many of us that are experimenting with landrace gardening & breeding our own fruits & vegetables are doing so out of the wonder of what's possible, as much as for improved locally adapted food species.  Growing your own unique food is a fun & interesting endeavor, & for me, it helps to satisfy my curiosity as I explore more possibilities of what success looks like amongst my many failures.  Then, I can eat it, and share with others!  
 
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For me at this point, it's all about low input max output.  I would love to grow frankenfood for flavor or novelty, but first I gotta get stocked up on a thrive-able seed bank.
 
Cy Cobb
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CJ, I get that for sure.  Good luck on building up your reserves.

Right now, I'm splitting my efforts between building a seed bank of successful self-grown seed to be held in reserve, and some to "play" with.  I also participate in seed trades, so I have a periodic influx of seed to grow out to ensure it's fresh & not old seed.  That's simply for my peace of mind in knowing the seed is worth saving & is worth repeat growing.  Not all of my homegrown crops make the cut as saved seed, let alone preserved seed.  Some of it goes into my crosses or "frankenfood" mixes.  The nice thing about growing out my own seed, is there's usually more of it than I can grow.
 
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I am not a prepper, but our Just-In-Time manufacturing world showed exposed cracks when the Ick (COVID) came through.

Yes, I am still sore over not having my precious toilet paper.

While I cannot control the production of derriere cloths, I can control a few things locally such as seeds!

I am just starting my seed saving/landrace adventure, and the intent of the process is to have seeds for crops that I will eat available year to year with semi-predictable results.

I think the best example for this need was from the 2023 Peppergate where seeds were mistakenly packaged as one type of pepper but where in actuality a completely different type. Large corporate seed vendors can make mistakes, and in the world of businesses buying up other businesses, there are less alternatives in case something like this happens again.

It is kind of like why I own my own poultry. Could I get eggs much cheaper at the big box store? Of course! However, I am at the whim of the store if an avian illness comes through and wipes out "Big Egg" farms that supply the stores.

Resilience costs either money or effort, and in the terms of seed it is effort which I am happy to expend!
 
Cy Cobb
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Timothy,

I agree, Peppergate surprised many this year.  I saw tons of people asking for help to ID their mystery peppers that were supposed to be X, but turned out to be Y.  I've also seen misinformation going around unchecked & accepted as fact on some other seed swap forums which is another reason why I grow out swapped seed first to ensure I know what I'm adding to the mix, or risk mixes that I don't want.  Most are reliable, but it only takes one Peppergate incident to potentially set back your seed goals for the year.
 
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First I had the thought maybe 12 years ago that I should buy plants and seeds from companies in my geographical area, because these were more likely to be well adapted to my climate. Then also the thought that heritage crops developed by the people native to my area would be better. Then what followed from that was the thought that seeds from my own garden would be best adapted to my growing conditions.

So from that mindset, I learned from permies the words to describe these ideas, like “landrace” and “rematriation” and I learned about people doing this work.

Around the same time, I got involved with a seed library that was starting up in my neighborhood and met other people interested in saving seeds.
 
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I think I'm saving seed now and developing my own landraces in the hope of being more successful at growing my own food. As I live in an area with a climate not typical of the rest of the UK (if there is indeed such a place at all!), I am even more aware that commercial seed varieties are not well suited to my growing conditions, and this is the case for heritage varieties too.
It is too early for me to tell how well my schemes will work out - I have so far only managed to save seed this year, and not all my crops have done well enough for me to get seed next year from the biennial plants (Like more roots crops). I still think that doing this will give me the best chance of success in growing good crops in the future.

edit - added bean picture
IMG_20230919_071034.jpg
Saved Fava beans drying on tray
Saved Fava beans drying on tray
 
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Some people rescue animals, I rescue plants and that includes seeds. I had too many friends who abused their seed packages and wasted half the seeds with little more excuse than "seeds are cheap". But are they? When you think of what the big companies do to grow and package and ship seeds, environmentally, I'm not convinced they're cheap at all.

So I started gathering up all those "extra" seeds and storing them well. When my friend says, "I want to start a couple of cucumber plants, I either fish out a couple of seeds, or actually start them in paper pots for her.

However, that start to the journey, led to the desire to collect many of my favorite seeds directly from my own plants. Many of them are only the "easy ones" - lettuce, beans, peas, pumpkins and kale. But it's a start. I admit, I haven't tackled cucumbers. We don't get hot summers here, and Sept is often very damp, so to try to grow a cucumber long enough to get viable seed would be challenging... unless I get a greenhouse?
 
Cy Cobb
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Nancy,

I don't know the first thing about Fava Beans, but to me that's an impressive bowl of diversity in sizes, shapes, & colors you have there.  How many plants & how many varieties are represented there?

I myself am trying hard to grow common dry beans & field peas.  It's not the growing that's hard, I get great germination.  It's the birds that snip off the sprouts once they're a few inches tall.  I've repeatedly planted loads in the hope of overwhelming them until some reach maturity, but I just keep feeding them.  I may have to resort to netting or something to that effect.  Might have to look into fava beans.
 
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Nancy Reading wrote:I think I'm saving seed now and developing my own landraces in the hope of being more successful at growing my own food. As I live in an area with a climate not typical of the rest of the UK (if there is indeed such a place at all!), I am even more aware that commercial seed varieties are not well suited to my growing conditions, and this is the case for heritage varieties too.
It is too early for me to tell how well my schemes will work out - I have so far only managed to save seed this year, and not all my crops have done well enough for me to get seed next year from the biennial plants (Like more roots crops). I still think that doing this will give me the best chance of success in growing good crops in the future.



Nancy,    My few trips to the Netherlands in days past introduced me to the advantages of small greenhouses that many have access to for, I assume, home gardening.  Needless to say, it appears the Netherlands and Denmark additionally have large greenhouse production as well for tomatoes and other crops.   Given your similar latitude to and relative climate with these countries, have you considered adding a greenhouse for those crops that might otherwise not be growable in your area?
 
John Weiland
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Our seed saving started out the lazy way; -- observing some volunteer plants in the spring from the previous year's crop and realizing this hardiness could be improved upon by seed saving.   This has been born out by peppers and tomatoes, the seeds of which when donated to others gardening locally grows for them excellent crops compared to many of the commercially packaged offerings.  So consistency of product in an in-consistent growing region is a big plus!
 
Nancy Reading
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Cy Cobb wrote:I don't know the first thing about Fava Beans, but to me that's an impressive bowl of diversity in sizes, shapes, & colors you have there.  How many plants & how many varieties are represented there?


To be honest Cy, I couldn't tell you without looking up my purchases over the last few years, plus there were some seeds that I had been given....My guess would be about 14 different fava varieties. I tried to get as many different characteristics as I could to get a diverse starting mix. I grew both broad beans and field beans in the same area and am not sure whether or not this will be a good idea... I may separate them since they keep pretty well I could do one year mix, one year field beans and one year broad beans. Although broad beans are larger, the field beans are more prolific, so the food value is probably similar. common bean and runner beans like it a little warmer, although runner beans should do OK if I get a bit more shelter and start them off in good time.
 
Nancy Reading
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John Weiland wrote: Given your similar latitude to and relative climate with these countries, have you considered adding a greenhouse for those crops that might otherwise not be growable in your area?



Thanks for the suggestion John. I am doing different things in different areas. I do have a polytunnel and have grown good tomatoes and other crops undercover in previous years. At the moment it needs a new cover, and I hope to get that fitted for next year. The landraces are part of my ' natural farming system' which is supposed to be easy crops on a simple rotation, but I discovered that it isn't that easy to achieve simplicity! Longer term I worry about the ethics of plastic covers and may move to a smaller earth sheltered greenhouse...
 
Maybe he went home and went to bed. And took this tiny ad with him:
the permaculture bootcamp in winter (plus half-assed holidays)
https://permies.com/t/149839/permaculture-projects/permaculture-bootcamp-winter-assed-holidays
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