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namkha

Why You Should Save Your Own Seed

34 posts in this topic

The Real Seed Catalogue sell seed of heirloom vegetable, fruit, and herb varieties

and obviously they are different from The Real Seed Company --- their name wasn't on the Companies House list when I registered the name, should have done more research, my fault

our stock and theirs have a lot in common - all of our seeds are authentic heirloom varieties produced by the traditional method of open pollination... I recommend you read on as the info on their site is very helpful:

******

We only supply Real, Open Pollinated Varieties.

Real Seed breeds true, so you can save your own seed.

******

Hybrid ("F1") seed is the result of a cross between two different , but heavily inbred parents. Seed you save from these plants will either be sterile or a give a whole mix of shapes and types, usually producing a poor crop.

Only the seed company knows what the parents are, thus only they can produce that particular variety. If you want to grow it, you have no other source - good for the seed companies but not for you! Small growers should be able to keep their own seeds, selecting each year the best plants most suitable for their own land and conditions.

Yes, there are a few exceptions, but in general, the hybrid seed business has been a public relations victory over the small grower. For example, you will soon see more and more hybrid leek seed offered to you. This is because the supermarkets have set incredibly rigid limits on leek size, and the only way to achieve this is through hybridising two inbred varieties, so all leek seed production is switching to hybrids.

You will be told that these new leeks are 'more uniform', 'straighter' and so on. But what about flavour and adaptability? People seem to forget that we want to eat & enjoy these things - food is not just a commodity!

Despite common urban myths, there is no magic about hybrids. So-called "hybrid vigour" is the simple fact that good hybrid seed is better than bad real seed, and that sadly much of the real seed you get now has been badly maintained. But good real seed - which admittedly requires time, care and patience to produce and maintain - must, by virtue of the genetics of these things, be just as good, and in fact much more adaptable to different soils. The key here is that it takes less manpower to make the hybrid seed, so the wholesale seed growers are much happier to let the old varieties fade away.

And as for the cost of hybrid seed, this is another mystery. Hybrids are not made by hand. Yes, they were in the past, but not for many years now. Most hybrid pollination nowadays is done by chemical sprays, not hand pollination, so hybrid seed shouldn't be any more expensive than other seed. There may be a slight extra cost associated with the spraying, but it certainly doesn't justify the high prices and tiny packets some companies are offering.

Basically, seeds are now bred for large industrial farms (which is where the money is) and you, the home grower, just get fobbed off with a few of the same thing. Modern advert copywriting sometimes tries to disguise this. So when you're offered something that's 'good for freezing', what they mean is that it was bred to ripen all at once for machine harvesting & you'll get a glut.

Here are a few examples from 2004 catalogues that we found: How about 'really uniform fruit' - which often means 'inbred for the supermarket, narrow genetic base, may not adapt to your soil'. Or 'straight long shanks' usually means 'bred to fit the packing machine.' Or the best one yet - 'Leafless peas - easy to find the pods' translates as 'much smaller yield (the plants have no leaves !) - but at least now we've got rid of the leaves we can harvest them with a combine.' What a sad situation this is, with marketing people rather than gardeners writing the descriptions in modern seed catalogues.

In summary, hybrid seed can indeed have advantages for the industrial-chemical farmer who wants to harvest all at once. But for the small home grower who wants a good yield over a long period, traditional varieties are usually more productive. This has been shown time and time again, and we think that once you have tried the real open-pollinated varieties we have found, you will agree.

WHY YOU SHOULD SAVE YOUR OWN SEED ~

Until recently, every gardener in the world saved their own seed. And every gardener was, therefore, a plant breeder. They simply saved the seed of the plants that did best for them, and which they liked most. Although simple, this was efficient.

Each gardener was maintaining a slightly different strain of each vegetable, and this made for a huge living genebank that was very resilient against disease or climate change. If things changed so that your cabbages didn’t do well, someone down the road had a slightly different one that would cope.

This has worked very well for the past 11,000 years. That includes the Bronze Age, the building of the Pyramids, the rise and fall of all the major empires. Every year, without even thinking about it, millions of people added to the achievements of their ancestors to maintain and improve the previous years’ varieties. Because their seed was real, open-pollinated seed, every seed was a bit different, so it was widely adapted, but also adaptable - it could cope with all sorts of change.

Now, we have thrown this all away. In the past 40 years, almost all these adaptable local strains have been lost. Gardeners have forgotten how to save their own seed. They are sold hybrids, where every seed is identical, in every packet, year after year - no adaptability for different soils, or for changes in climate over time.

And because these hybrid seeds are all the same in every field in every country, people have to bludgeon the environment into some sort of ‘standard’ growing medium with fertilisers and chemicals, to grow their standardised seeds. Should the climate change, or the supply of cheap oil (to make all these chemicals) dry up, then these hybrids will do badly, and there will be no real seeds left to breed from.

Profits for the seed companies now, but disaster in the future . . . real farming is a project that has been ongoing for millennia, but now in the height of our tiny period of cheap oil, we think we know better and have turned it into just another industrial process. Peoples food should represent stored sunlight and water, but 90% of its calories come from oil these days – for the ploughing, spraying, fertiliser, transport. When the oil runs out, who will have the real seeds that can grow without it?

Seed-saving is easy. You'll get better seed, better food, and help preserve 11,000 years of work for the future!

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this real seed co are heroes (imho)

give them business.

right on namkha

booom

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yeah, I think radishes are a good example of this.. at least here

15-20 years ago they were quite different but nowadays what they grow has been bred to north american taste preferences..

crisp, watery and almost no bite.. no wonder we use so much salt to give our food taste. I'm growing some pungent stuff at the moment, can't wait to taste them

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if ya make ya own seeds are you better off pollinating a selected female with a few males or a selected male ? :headpain:

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The real seed catalogue have some excellent seeds onsale. Their brandywine tomatoes are fantastic. Here's another link de-bunking the 'Hybrid vigour' myth.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/News/HeirloomVeg.asp

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my old housemate got a load of heirloom fruit + veg seeds off there, thats what made me get her seeds from namkha, she loves her heirlooms, now she wants to get a T-shirt that says "Everything I grow is heirloom", even the weed.

Its companies like Namkha's and the other real seed people who show a great way around all this GMO and inccessent inbreeding that most varieties of everything has gone through over the years.

I just dread te day Monsanto get involved with the canna world

bastards

bless you namkha

the kipz

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The real seed catalogue have some excellent seeds onsale. Their brandywine tomatoes are fantastic. Here's another link de-bunking the 'Hybrid vigour' myth.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/News/HeirloomVeg.asp

also their 'reisetomate' tomatoes are far out and very sweet and tasty.

They're like a load of tiny cherrytoms but they grow into one another to make a bizarre looking mutant.

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Heirloom veg outperforms modern cultivars

8 June 2009

A field trial of lettuces has found that older, more traditional varieties outperform their modern-day counterparts, standing up better to bad weather and showing stronger resistance to downy mildew.

Eleven of the 12 best-performing varieties of lettuce at the Garden Organic trial were 'heritage' types - traditional, unimproved forms, many of which have fallen out of wider circulation as modern hybrids have come to dominate the market. Many of the older lettuce varieties trialled were taken from Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library, which conserves the seed of old vegetable varieties to prevent them being lost altogether.

A Cos variety dating back to the 1930s called 'George Richardson' was only outperformed by one commercial variety, 'Kitare'. Other older lettuce varieties which outdid modern hybrids included Victorian-bred winter lettuce 'Rouge d'Hiver' and 'Bronze Arrow', a loose-leaf variety from California dating back to the 1940s.

“It wasn't what I expected,” said Phil Sumption, who led the research. “When you grow commercially you tend to always go for the latest new varieties.”

Garden Organic is now discussing further trials with seed companies and growers with the eventual aim of bringing some of the older varieties back into commercial production.

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lol great link cheers

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nice read and a good ethos.............

rip B)

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I'd love to get my paws on some malana cream, but sadly,seeds are illegal to have in New Zealand. I wish I knew that before I moved out here as I could have made some contingency plans :yinyang:

Never mind, I'm sure the seed fairy will grant me decent genetics to play with again at some point .

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if ya make ya own seeds are you better off pollinating a selected female with a few males or a selected male ? :yinyang:

I believe pollen from selected multiple males is good mate. Better off with multiple males. The more you got to choose from the better.

I agree that everyone should save seeds and have a stash of seeds under preservation conditions. I've got some canna seeds but was thinking about storing all seeds I could lay my hands on. I think it's a smart idea the way things are going. Nice one Namkha

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If you join the RHS as a member,you become eligible for their seed exchange scheme.

The Cottage Garden Society also do a similar scheme for members.

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If anyone is really interested in meeting them,I've just noticed this on their site...hxxp://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedcourse.html.(change the x to t).

The link on the above page for LILI looks interesting as does where the seed saving course is being held..Brithdir Mawr.

Pity I haven't got the £75 for it cos I love to meet people with a real passion for something.

Fair play to 'em.

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