Category Archives: Book Review

Inspiration from “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food”

I just finished reading the book “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food” via Kindle and feel like quite the rebel.  My gardening research has made one thing abundantly clear – saving seed is the way to go.   Last season I saved the seeds of two plants, Ho Mi Z mustard (a close out at Johnny’s Selected Seeds which I still have a boat load left) and Tendergreen bush green beans (purchased at the Garden Spot in Ravenna).  The mustard saving was sort of by accident as it went to seed during the summer and I just randomly collected some (maybe to make condiment mustard?).  As for the green beans, I had saved bean seed (aka just beans) before and thought I’d be growing them again in 2013.

The writing style choice for the Seed Underground (stories about seed savers) made the driving force of the book transparent.  Though there was plenty of seed saving techniques and advice (tomatoes and sweet potatoes, to name a few), the author’s main goal was to inspire others to action.

Even though I may not know you, I have fallen in love with you, you who understand that a relationship to the land is powerful; who want that connection; who want authentic experiences; who want a life that has meaning, that makes sense, that is essential. And I am writing for you. You. This story is for you. This is not a textbook on seed saving. I am looking to inspire you with my own life.

Many of the chapters are about specific seed savers and their plants.  Each saved seed has a history with people, places and events attached.  My inner gardener has proclaimed that now is the time for the Snarky Gardener to start his own stories.  I’ve already fallen in love with several of my garden plant varieties (don’t tell my girlfriend) and know there’s room in my heart for many more.  Below is a list of my seed saving intentions for this upcoming year (for motivational reasons mostly).

Seeds/Tubers I will definitely save this year:
– Tomatoes
– Beans
– Peas
– Coriander (aka Cilantro)
– Mustard
– Sunchoke (aka Jerusalem Artichoke)
– Potatoes
– Seven Top turnips that I overwintered (if they go to seed)

Seeds/Cloves I might save this year:
– Peppers
– Eggplants
– Dill
– Parsley
– Chervil
– Lettuce / Mesclun
– Kale
– Garlic
– Pumpkins
– Other herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, mint, lemon balm)

Seeds I won’t save this year:
– Watermelon – it’s a small F1 that I’m using up this year
– Cucumber – female only variety
– Zucchini – female only variety
– Mache / Corn Salad – I have plenty plus I’m just going to let it go to seed in the garden so it grows like a winter weed
– Onions – I will just buy bulbs like I do every year
– Leeks
– Kohlrabi
– Broccoli
– Brussels Sprouts
– Purple Top Turnips – next year if I remember to overwinter a few
– Corn – when I find a flint type that will store

I’m still seeking favorite tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and peas. An order from Amishland Seeds (Amish Paste, Black Cherry, and Sylvia’s Amish Low Acid Red tomatoes) should provide me with tomatoes.  I’m down to two types of beans: Amish Gnuddel (an Amish dry bean planted around my corn Three Sisters style), and Jacob’s Cattle beans (a dry bush bean I picked up at the farmer’s market this spring).  Eggplants will be one Japanese / Ichiban variety.   I have started Long Purple seed (from the FNLC seed swap) and will see how it fares in my garden.  It’s the same thing with peppers as I received a Mini Belle Pepper mix.  Peas have been whittled down to one climbing (6 foot snow pea vines going up my tomatoes cages) and a bush type to be used as a spring green manure.


Another argument for seed saving is the fact that local food equals local seed.

There’s that word local again. Locavore, local economics, and now locally adapted seed. This also means that if you’re a seed saver, you’re a seed selector, and thus a plant breeder, more or less, growing seed adapted to your locality. And as the seed adapts to soil, I heard a gardener at the Rodale Institute once say, the soil adapts to seed.

Maybe this means my seeds will adapt to my pH levels, so I won’t have to fret about my soil acidity (worth a thought).  Saving my seed also means it will grow better next year for my micro-climate and organic gardening style.  I’m a lazy farmer, so the easier my plants grow, the better I like it.  And after years of growing my especially adapted plants, Northeastern Ohio varieties could be released to the public (Ohio Snarky Beans anyone?).  My ego could handle that 🙂

One note from Mari at “Food Not Lawns Cleveland”:

Be sure to tell folks on your blog that the books Food Not Lawns and The Seed Underground are always available at the events/gatherings – no tax, no shipping.