The Miracle of a Seed

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Posted by @Anderwood on
During this time of year, so much hope and anticipation lie ahead, all bundled up in a seed.

It never ceases to amaze me when I hold a living embryo in my hand, tuck it into soil, and then se it peeking up to the light, whether it is a tomato seedling with its pubescent-like root hairs on the stem, the bright and cheery cotyledons of green lettuce, or the petite curls of onions: Life bursting forth. This transformation never gets old after you've spent months looking at the piles of snow blanketing your garden and after you've had enough of scraping your car. You close your eyes and imagine that tropical July dawn, savoring a few dripping Sun Gold tomatoes out in the garden. From a tiny seed comes a plethora of bountiful goodness. Just. One. Seed.

But where will this seed come from? There are many options out there: hybrid, open pollinated (OP), heirloom, and organic. With an entire growing season ahead of you, the seed quality matters. All seed companies are not equal. The term heirloom has been all the rage lately. What is an heirloom seed? The technical definition is a seed that has been passed down for 50 years. If you plant a seed you save from an heirloom tomato, you will get the same type of tomato from that seed. This is not the case with a hybrid seed (F1). Seed companies that have an intimate relationship with their plants carefully manage the population of that crop. Seed farmers eliminate weak performers from the population. Plants that are more susceptible to disease are taken out. If farmers see a fruit that may have crossed with another plant, that is taken out.

One of the greatest advantages of heirlooms in my opinion is the flavor. Heirlooms in the home garden are usually eaten within a day or two of being picked. These plants aren't bred to withstand shipping. Flavor is king here. In heirlooms you find an endless array of flavors to delight your palate. In tomatoes you'll find everything from tart and tangy to tropical and sweet. There are also uniquely flavored tomatoes with an earthy smoky flavor. Some of these come from farmers who notice an oddity in their crop and love the flavor. They then start saving the seeds from this one tomato and isolate it until they get 100% of the same tomato.

Another exciting advantage of heirlooms is the diversity of colors and shapes: purple sugar snap peas, orange eggplants, and green and yellow striped tomatoes. These are not the veggies you see in the grocery store. Six years ago I discovered heirlooms, and I wish I could triple my garden space. I want to try them all!

A final advantage of heirlooms I'll mention is the fun of saving your own seeds. Seeing seeds sprout that came from your own backyard is even more rewarding. I have been saving a certain sweet pepper for three years now. I selected seeds from peppers that had a curvy shape. The next year, the plant gave me more peppers with a wild shape.

Another advantage to saving your own is that the seeds will be adapted to the micro-climate of your little piece of Earth. The more years you save, the better adapted it will become. You can develop your own strain. You may even develop a new variety! Many vegetables are easy to save.

Thumb of 2016-02-17/Anderwood/c18829

Thumb of 2016-02-17/Anderwood/04fca8

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Has anyone ever seen seeds sprouting out of a still ripe tomato? by PittsPandaBear Jan 24, 2018 1:24 PM 4
Saving Seeds by blue23rose Dec 14, 2016 10:26 PM 1

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