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Seed Saving

By Jacky Cronin, a member of Seedsavers Albury Wodonga

Seed saving brings out that child-like wonderment in me. Do you remember growing wheat on damp cottonwool as a kid? Or grass heads made with mum’s old stockings?  That primal urge to grow something, especially food, may have started with these simple classroom exercises. Or maybe it was images of dad always pottering about in his veggie patch growing “verdura” (chicory and endive), radicchio, sage and flat leaf parsley and other Italian vegetables and herbs.

There’s something magic about seeds. Such tiny parcels that with a little water and sun sprout into living things. It’s that magic that attracts me to seed saving; it’s the whole adventure. You begin by choosing some vigorous productive plants. One of my favourites is the tomato. The poor cardboard tasting supermarket specimens are nothing compared to my own sun and vine ripened heirloom beauties. I select my top plants. I squeeze out the seeds into a jar with a little water and two days later I drain and dry my seeds. Tomato plants in waiting, stored in small paper envelopes… amazing!

They say that saving your own seed of a plant for 3-5 years acclimatises that seed to your particular micro climate. As a natural born sceptic I initially scoffed at this. But now that some of my tomato and capsicum varieties have been saved, in some cases for up to 8 years, I am getting bumper crops and healthy plants.

At Seedsavers Albury Wodonga we collect and share seeds of mainly edible and beneficial plants. We share growing tips, solutions to pest and disease problems, we share saved seed, excess seedlings and propagated plants. Knowledge is given freely and my skills as a productive gardener have certainly benefitted. And to tell you the truth, I love being able to talk and listen to like-minded people who are just as concerned as I am about earwigs in the beans, fruit fly in the tomatoes and finding a lettuce that doesn’t bolt in hot weather.

And my favourite seed to collect… why it’s every kid’s favourite of course, the acorn. This little self contained marvel in a hard shell and jaunty cap grows itself into one of my favourite trees. Just awesome! And now my own children come home from the local park with precious acorns to give me, their mum, who at 43 is still an acorn collector.