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Storing Seed by the SA Seed Savers

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Storing Seed by the SA Seed Savers
Seedy Sundays

Written by Allison Miller, April 2005 

Storing Seed by the SA Seed Savers

 

Seed Saving enthusiasts sweltered in the heat as well as the diversity of food being grown on the Adelaide Plains, during the very hot Autumn 2005 Seedy Sunday. 

 

Only moments into the morning visit to Gary & Sue’s conglomerate of organic ‘Joyeata’1 heaven, we realised a whole day could’ve been spent listening to Gary’s wisdom, and viewing the couples’ great growing techniques.  They are not afraid of a challenge – they’ve been growing organic variegated pineapples and organic mushrooms, as well as the most delicious juicy organic strawberries in Adelaide.

 

Our scrumptious shared lunch was at Tony & Julie’s Buchfelde property.  There lies the valley of the figs (some 160 plants!) and other fleshy fruits.  Whilst sampling as many varieties of figs as the stomach could hold, to aid Tony with data for his fig-sentric research, we were surrounded by fabulous design – old galvanised sheeting directing rain water into the gully and to individual trees, a very large fruit tree greenhouse for bird exclusion, and a glass house which helps warm the home as well as provides a lovely “hanging about” space.

 

We even managed to spend some of the day sharing information about storing seed.

 

Saving seed is a cost effective method of preserving the biodiversity, taste and variety of locally adapted, regional food through the selection of the best plants.  “Second to breeding, the most important factor in determining the vigour of a seed is the way it is stored”2 

 

Seeds are lively things and have a limited life span, dependent upon how well it has been dried and stored.  After drying the seed appropriately – (another article in itself) there are three vital circumstances to consider when finding a location to store seed.  These include creating an environment of low moisture/humidity (a good airtight container – see below), of low temperature (in a cellar, a room with constant temperature, burying underground – ideally the fridge/freezer) and in low light (darker the better).

 

Good seed storing containers include: – metal tins with airtight lid – water and rodent proof, dark inside; glass jars – able to view seed easily and recycled ones with original smelly contents (like crushed garlic) helps to keep the bugs away; ceramic/pottery jars – consistent temperature; heat-sealed foil packets – airtight, dark; cigarette foil wrapping and packets – nicotine isn’t good for beasties either.  Adding a moisture absorbing substance such as silica gel or cotton wool is also advisable.

 

For future identification good labelling about the seed is essential.  Include – the type of plant, the uses of plant, when and how to sow and grow the seed, together with where and when the seed was picked.  These are vital pieces of information to record, especially if you are considering sharing your seed.

 

Not all seed has the same potential viability (life expectancy as a seed).  A web search for “seed viability” will bring up a gamut of useful information – as does Jude & Michel Fanton’s Seed Saver Handbook.  Initially accessing viable, non-hybrid seed is available from seed companies like Diggers, Eden Seeds, Green Harvest, etc or via a Local Seed Network like SA Seed Savers (http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/SA_SeedSavers/), a local gardening club, a LETS/Local market or becoming a member of the Seed Savers Network (www.seedsavers.net).

 

 

 

1 – Joyeata is the name of Gary & Sue’s Organic Fruit & Vegetable business in Lewiston, which will home delivery to nearly anywhere in Adelaide for a very reasonable fee!

2 – pg 37 Michel & Jude Fanton, The Seed Savers Handbook, Seed Savers Network, 1993

 

Allison Miller, amateur seed saver, lover of fresh food, and apprentice to the art and therapy of gardening

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