I was harvesting seeds today – the last plant of dwarf curly kale from last winter’s crop which I had allowed to go to seed purposely so I could do this. The seed pods have to be allowed to fully develop and then to dry out or else the seeds inside them might not be fully matured. After harvesting I still leave my seeds for a few days in the warmth by the Aga to make sure they are absolutely dry, otherwise I might open up the airtight container in which I have stored them over winter and find a horrible mouldy mess!
Harvesting seeds from one’s own plants makes a huge amount of sense. For one thing, you don’t have to keep on paying several pounds for each new packet of seeds you buy every spring. Perhaps more importantly, keeping your own seeds from year to year allows you to develop your seed which is bred to thrive in your particular soil and weather conditions. It makes absolute sense. (Just be aware that if your plants are F1 Hybrid they will not come true from seed harvested from them.)
Sitting outside my backdoor listening to Classic FM on my little battery-powered radio while I crushed the dried pods and shook the seed free, I was suddenly aware of the huge and absolute potential in each tiny, compact, round ball. Each one represents a whole plant, two and a half feet tall or more, bearing many crinkly, vitamin-rich green leaves which will stand through the worst frost and snow of winter providing precious fresh food for numerous meals. How amazingly wonderful is that?
As my bowl of seeds began to fill, the thought suddenly struck me that perhaps – if such events are allowed to take place next spring – I could packet up some of my harvested abundance and take a little stall at Conwy Seed Fair next March. It is always great fun to attend, whether as a trader or a customer.
And then I thought to myself, why confine my little green garden offerings to one fair – why not resurrect our village artisan market which we supported for five years but which faded without trace about seven years ago? Perhaps in this time of greater need for outdoor, local, ethical and environmentally friendly produce it might once again be successful and appeal to a wider section of society?
In my mind’s eye my vision began to fill with crowds of happy faces, laughing and talking across open air stalls as all manner of local foods and goods change hands. I see similar little markets popping up in every village and area of larger towns and cities. Perhaps we could have a swaps stall and another area where people simply offer to donate their time, effort, or particular skill, or another stall where people offer to work in exchange for what is on sale so that money does not have to change hands… my mind was really racing now… and then I saw all the other local gardens where my saved seeds had been shared and were growing and flourishing to help provide good, fresh, healthy and sustainable foods for other families…
Here, indeed, is to sowing seeds… magical seeds full of dreams, inspiration, endless possibilities and positivity… seeds to charm us all into opening our hearts to each other and the land around us in mutual support and true community… so my little kale seeds whispered to me today as I glimpsed a wonderfully vivid new future…