Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Anyone Wanna Swap?...The life and garden of the seed saver.

Are you bad at cutting off spent flower heads?  Has this task been on the bottom of your “needs to be done” list all summer and now you are staring at dead flower heads everywhere.  Take heart!  I’m here with good news!

Enula, my Enulam I have so forsaken thee!

It has been one of those years for me too, but I’m not going to sing the blues about it, NOPE not this gardener!  There is a blessing in those tatty looking flower heads.  You see the truth is this, they little seed factories…and I love seeds because they grow into more plants!

I don't know about you, but I would like some more of that Kale please.

If you are completely OCD about clipping off every spent flower head and yanking out every leafy vegetable before they run to flower, and if you hate to see any plant go to its final resting place…and I’m not talking the compost heap here, then you will not be able to collect seeds from your own garden.  All of this seeming tatty-ness that many of us classify as visual unseemliness is very necessary if our plants are to be allowed to go to seed.  I know, I know; that wasn’t what you wanted to hear, but it is the truth!  Honestly it’s not all that bad once you get used to it.

Go ahead...I dare ya.  Tell me what is not to love about this seed head?

Being a seed saver I’ve learned the value of living with a little “tatty” in the garden.  Personally it has help me, a type-A, “gotta have it show-ready” type of gardener, to actually relax and enjoy the seasonal progress that God intended in the garden and know that I will still live even if I am not “in control” of every leaf and flower.   The other amazing thing I have discovered is that most people, as in 99.9% of people, who visit the garden, really don’t see all the “tatty” that I do.  How that happens I have no clue, but they seem to see right past the tatty and on into the beauty.  I absolutely love that others are blind to what my critiquing eye sees and what a revelation that was for me the first time I experienced it.

Do you see what I see?  Do you see what I see?  A weed, spent blooms, ruining my view, oh I wish I could see like you.

When those spent flowers that never got cut off  completely died and are allowed to finish doing what they are designed to do, they will produce those seeds I keep talking about.

Astrantia major with the promise of...MORE ASTRANTIA MAJOR PLANTS!  WOO HOO!

Some plants will produce a lot of seed, others not so much.  Flowers are the most prolific.  So what you say?  Free plants I say!  And now you ask what happens if you save all that seed?  What on earth are you supposed to do with it if you do not have acreage to plant all that seed on?  WHY SWAP THEM OF COURSE!

Oh, just a few thousand seeds I gathered in yesterday.

Seed swapping has been going on for centuries all over the world.  For some reason we sometimes get the idea that it is new thing...but it is not.  Maybe I’ll write about that sometime but lets get back to business here.  We gardeners swap our seed bounty with each other, hold seed swapping parties, trade through online seed swapping groups and even hand them off to the cashier at the grocery store and total strangers if they’ll take them.

Preparing for a seed swapping party can be a lot of fun!

Honestly, we don’t care as long as someone wants to try growing them and hopefully will be happy with the plants once they are grown.  Now that makes us about as happy as a gardener can get.  This affords us bragging rights that the plants they are growing because...they came from “our” seed that "we" collected.  Oh its not what you think, we are just proud to have sown plants we love into the lives and gardens of others. 

Don't touch that lettuce!  Someone you know might love to have some of that seed!

We learn a lot about plants as we grow new plants from seed. We talk to gardeners who have grown the plants the seed came from and who give us tips that will help in our success in growing it.  This same information we will pass along to the folks we will also share seeds with from these plants.  Another thing, we get to show off what we have accomplished and most all the time, share the lineage of where that plant or plants came from…so and round and round it goes.

Some for me and some for you and some for, oh...whomever.

Basically I guess you could say that we gardeners are a somewhat out of control bunch; a mutual appreciation/admiration society, with a bent towards enabling our gardening addicted friends to continue to practice our common interest while encouraging others to get on board and start gardening too. We are often generous to a fault with what we know, what we grow and love to share with others, especially with other gardeners who also have stuff to share, like all those seeds that they have more of than they can or will ever use.  Most of us are a little bit compulsive about not wasting the seed or maybe its just that we cannot bear to see good seed go to waste, whatever the reason there is a whole lot of seed swapping going on.  How about you, wanna swap?

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