The Manual of Seed Saving: Harvesting, Storing, and Sowing Techniques for Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruitsby Andrea Heistinger, Ian Miller (Translator)
“Makes it easy to find information in a snap, on most any edible you want to grow.” —Kylee Baumle, Horticulture Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs from seed has many benefits for both the gardener and the planet. Why save seeds when you can buy them so cheap? Not only does seed saving allow you to grow a diverse,/b>/i>
“Makes it easy to find information in a snap, on most any edible you want to grow.” —Kylee Baumle, Horticulture Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs from seed has many benefits for both the gardener and the planet. Why save seeds when you can buy them so cheap? Not only does seed saving allow you to grow a diverse, organic array of fruits and vegetables, it also offers an opportunity to work closely with nature and be even more hands-on with the food you grow, cook, and eat. Supported by research from the global conservation organizations Arche Noah and Pro Specie Rara, The Manual of Seed Saving features information on how to maximize seed quality and yield for crop plants like asparagus, carrots, corn, rhubarb, spinach, squash, and tomatoes. Plant profiles include critical information on pollination, isolation distances, cultivation, harvest, storage, and pests and diseases.
"A novice or expert gardener will find it equally appealing and a fun, compelling and swift read."
"[A] handy guide for seed savers."
“[Makes] it easy to find information in a snap, on most any edible you want to grow.”
“Even if someone already has a good book on seed saving, he or she also needs The Manual of Seed Saving. Well illustrated and thorough, it demystifies an important and satisfying practice that is attracting many converts.”
“With increasing numbers of edible plant varieties disappearing from seed catalogs and gardens, this work enables its audience to engage in a worthy pursuit. It will be very useful for hobbyist and professional growers. A green thumb up.” —Library Journal “Even if someone already has a good book on seed saving, he or she also needs The Manual of Seed Saving by Andrea Heistinger, from Timer Press. Well illustrated and thorough, it demystifies an important and satisfying practice that is attracting many converts.” —The Washington Post “A handy guide for seed savers.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Practical gardeners will appreciate the handy nature of The Manual of Seed Saving. . . . It’s bound to become a well-thumbed reference guide, covering more than 100 plants such as corn, asparagus and tomatoes.” —Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier “A useful book for any gardener who would like to collect their own seeds or propagate their own varieties.” —Stephanie’s Book Reviews “Contributing experts from around the planet helped compile this hefty, thorough handbook that reads like a good guide book. A novice or expert gardener would find it equally appealing and a fun, compelling and swift read.” —Botanical Rambles
Heistinger, an Austrian agronomist, in association with Austrian (Arche Noah) and Swiss (Pro Specia Rara) conservation foundations, presents agronomist Miller's translation of her award-winning Austrian publication, a comprehensive guide to correctly harvesting, storing, and planting seeds from more than 100 vegetables, fruits, and herbs. (The book does not cover ornamental and flowering plants.) The author aims to enable gardeners and farmers to create their own heirloom seeds rather than depending on commercial varieties to grow plants that will thrive under local conditions, to maintain existing plant varieties that may be otherwise lost, to diversify crops, and simply to enjoy good-tasting homegrown foods. The tested techniques offered here in consultation with global experts are easy to follow in both photographs and text. Arranged alphabetically by common plant name, from amaranth to "tomato and relatives," each plant is described in terms of botanical and propagation characteristics. Also included for each entry are overviews of the plant family, "What You'll Need" to harvest the plant's seed, pollination notes, and extensive information on growing the plant for its seeds, harvesting it, selection criteria of which to be aware, and cultivation history. VERDICT With increasing numbers of edible plant varieties disappearing from seed catalogs and gardens, this work enables its audience to engage in a worthy pursuit. It will be very useful for hobbyist and professional growers. A green thumb up.—Deborah Broocker, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Dunwoody
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Read an Excerpt
Why Propagate Your Own Vegetable Seed? This question may occur to someone perusing the latest colorful catalog from a seed company. It does not, however, occur to the many gardeners who have been propagating their own seed for years. Such gardeners proudly tell stories of “their” varieties, of caring for an unusually beautiful plant to ensure that it produces seed, of an especially bountiful seed harvest, or of techniques they have developed to improve seed yield in some way. Many old and rare varieties, which must be propagated and passed along by home gardeners in order to be maintained, are not even available from seed companies. The life cycle of a plant begins and ends with the seed. Those who grow plants and select and harvest their seed experience the complete life cycle of those plants. Up until a few decades ago, it was common practice to grow heirloom varieties that were passed down, along with the house, garden, and fields. These varieties were practically family members and were perfectly adapted, through generations of selection, to the growing conditions and culinary preferences found locally. The knowledge of propagating these plants was deeply connected with the plants themselves and to the place they were cultivated. The more a variety is adapted to its growing site, the easier it is to grow it. Each plant produces seeds typical of its species; shape, size, and color are all distinguishing features of the seed. Everyone recognizes beans, whether ripe or unripe, or even pepper and pumpkin seeds. Seed growers carefully set aside some fruits, clean and dry them, and spread their seed the following year. Often you will find the seeds of individual species, whose propagation we describe, pictured in this book. With this book, we want to inspire you to give seed propagation and selective breeding in your own garden a try. There is no such thing as a “finished” variety; varieties are constantly evolving. From this point of view, there are no heirlooms, no “old varieties,” but rather only varieties of the present—as long as they continue to be grown and used. To propagate seed is to breed seed. One learns to closely observe plants and perceive their various traits. Do the fruits from each pepper plant in my garden taste the same? Is there a squash plant in my garden that yields higher than the others? Do any of the carrots I harvested taste particularly sweet? Are some of the celery plants more vigorous than others? Which of the lettuce plants makes the best-looking head? Are the plants that came from a good-looking plant that I selected last year just as good-looking as the mother plant? He or she who selects plants that will be grown for seed does this with their own ideas of the “ideal” version of the variety. Do the rounded or the longer beets look better? Which do I like more, the tastier ones or the smoother ones? In consumer society, we seldom have such a living relationship with the things we consume and use. To not merely consume what is on offer but to have a say in how it is produced—this is what propagating seed is all about: on the one hand maintaining ancient wisdom, on the other being creative. Those who start propagating their own vegetable seeds quickly become hooked and often just as quickly find that their gardens have become too small. Through growing and propagating seed, we give crop plants a chance to continue to develop together with us. No longer are they mere objects in a museum. Those who have propagated crop seed know that each plant typically produces much more than you can use the following year. Plants produce seeds galore in an effort to secure the future of their respective species. What this means for us as seed growers is that for many of the vegetables we grow, we will have not only enough for next year but also the year after that (and the year after that)—and still enough to trade with our neighbors and give away to our friends.
Meet the Author
Andrea Heistinger works professionally as an agronomist, author, and educator. She studied agriculture at BOKU, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. She lives and works in the Waldviertel region of Austria and in South Tyrol, Italy.
Translator Ian Miller is an American agroecologist, natural builder, stonemason, baker, educator, and musician. He was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in environmental studies, emphasis agroecology. He worked on biodynamic farms in the Austrian province of Carinthia for two years, was the garden crew leader at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, for two years, and is a certified scything instructor with the Sensenverein Österreich (Austrian Scything Association). He and his wife and daughter currently split their time between Vienna, Austria, and Decorah, Iowa, where they have a small homestead and offer workshops on various aspects of low-capital farming.
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