Mentee Blog #2 – Steve and Mary Unger
Seed Saving Adventures #2
Some of the seeds we saved this season pretty much saved themselves, with us just standing nearby ready to catch and clean and store – the kale, the arugula, the squash, and the beans. Coincidentally, these foods are some of the hardiest growing, nutrient dense, and best storing foods in our climate . A correlation we will stew on a bit more over this winter. On the other hand, the challenging seeds we encountered have given us pause to think. The oats were a delight to grow and an utter eye opener in in realising exactly what it takes to get oatmeal on the table every morning. The oats were vulnerable at planting to all the little seed eating birds around the place, then harvested blatantly by roves of marauding Canada Geese, and now, after having had a satisfying harvest of our own, with a group of sickle-wielding friends, the oats sit in our back room, in great big piles awaiting the wrapping of our heads around the business of threshing and winnowing. A very intense process all around, and adding the new dimensions of specialised machinery to a small farm operation. It’s been tempting to feed the whole lot, as is, to the chickens, a respectable and viable option for sure, transforming carbs into eggs and meat, but it wasn’t what we had set out originally to do (truth be told, part of the harvest was earmarked for a gluten free stout making adventure!).
The tomato seeds we saved six years ago from Klipper’s toms purchased at the farmers market, germinated brilliantly, and grew into strong healthy plants. We will save seed again from this tomato fruit and continue the line, knowing it has further adapted to our south island soil and climate. It has been a rich and fruitful year of learning seed. We studied squash flowers and watched ova blow up like balloons. We competed with earwigs for the peas in their pods. We grew cantaloupe for the very first time and are excited to experiment with planting black locust from seed this fall. We have put principles into practice with varying degrees of success and huge amounts of learning, and all that in itself has been very good.
What we hadn’t expected to learn was the power and importance of saving invisible seeds. The passing on of kernels of knowledge from one generation to the next, the sharing of best practices and pearls of wisdom. It is the spending of time together talking and harvesting over a garbage can full of lentils stocks, where the discussions plant seeds of their own. It is the time honoured practice of passing seeds of wisdom down from generation to generation that will facilitate the long-term storage and propagation of our ability to be resilient. Today, this part of it all has almost been forgotten.
Seed is potential. It is the potential to be a plant, a being, an idea, a revolution. It is the potential to grow into something amazing and beautiful. It is an intent for what could be, and the opportunity of things to come. The future is encapsulated in a tiny little seed that can grown into a huge tree or a decision or a choice or an action that will change the world. It is in this vain, that we honour our seed saving experience, mentors and companions.
Steve & Mary