Tuesday Book Review – Seed to Seed

Yesterday I was watching Antique Roadshow.  Someone brought in an Anasazi pot, a big bellied thing with a tiny hole in the center of the top.  What was that for?  The curator said it was a seed-saving vessel.  I always wondered why some pots were made with small openings.  They certainly weren’t vases, or cereal bowls.  Now I want to collect little pots like that for my seed collection.

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition

Are you interested in saving seeds?  The seeds of hybrid vegetables and fruits don’t produce offspring similar to the parents – the genetic work falls apart, and you can get some freakish food.  If you want to save seed and have the same food grow from it as you enjoyed last year, you need heirloom varieties that aren’t hybridized or GMO.  Seed saving is a skill, and though it’s not hard, there are some things to know.  This book by Suzanne Ashworth treats it as a scientific skill giving step-by-step directions to help you save seed simply and practically.

One of my favorite spices is paprika.  I don’t like hot peppers, but I love the warmth and the earthy aroma that comes with paprika.  When I include it in food, I get a sensation in my palate, upper cheeks and sinus that is so wonderful. When I searched for paprika seeds, they were nowhere to be found.  I could find hybrid paprika, or bell pepper, jalapeno, habaneros (eek), but not paprika.  Why is this?  Every supermarket has paprika in the spice rack.

Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika

Further research taught me that the word “paprika” means “pepper” in Hungarian, and that the country of Hungary is known for its exquisite peppers.  I asked at Lockhart Seeds in Stockton (where I buy my heirloom seeds), and they gave me their contact person in Florida for peppers – The Pepper Gal (www.peppergal.com).  She has over 130 varieties of hot pepper in her list, and nearly another 100 sweet peppers.  From her, I was able to purchase three tiny envelopes with these varieties: Pimento L Sweet, Apple Sweet, and Round of Hungary Sweet.  These heirloom varieties have seeds that will be true to the parent, and I’ll be able to save them from the best fruits to plant again next year.

Pepper Gal Paprikas

Pepper Gal Paprikas

How am I going to save them?  Ms. Ashworth is excellent in her directions.  On page 153 it says, “Peppers can be cleaned in a blender if the flesh is not going to be eaten.  Cut the stems off of the fleshless seed cores, adding enough water to cover the cores.  Blend at low speed until the cores disintegrate and the seeds are free.  Gently stir the mixture, and the good seeds will sink to the bottom.”  Isn’t that neat?  I want the best seeds, and right at the start, I’ll be able to filter for them. Then she describes how to clean, dry, and store these seeds.  She also describes how to save seeds for beans, lettuce, melons, etc.  Everything you’d want to plant.  You’ll never have to buy seeds again, and will have seed to swap in Springtime.

Our ancestors knew how to save seeds.  The seed storage was carefully protected, so good food could be grown next year.  I’m relearning something my great-grandparents knew, and did routinely. –Allison

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