Do you grow your garden by planting seedlings and potted mature plants or by sowing seeds? There are times when it makes sense to some of each. Seedlings and larger plants can save you time, but there are many advantages to sowing seeds too.
As a seed saver, I’d like to share some important reasons why we should all grow at least some of our homegrown food from seed.
5 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Food From Seed
1. Save money!
Seeds represent great value for money so investing in even one seed packet will reap huge rewards if you choose the right kind of seeds. However, if you learn how to save your own seed you won’t need to continue to buy it.
On a tight budget? Most seed packets have more seeds than you need. If you swap seeds with others you can grow your garden for very low cost.
Find a gardening buddy or group. Split the packet contents so you each have what you really need. One dill plant, for example, will provide more seeds than one person will ever use in a lifetime. They are very easy to process and can be shared with others so you can increase the diversity of what you grow in your own garden.
In recent years, the diversity and availability of seeds available worldwide has dropped considerably. Many heirloom varieties have been lost as a result, as small seed saving companies are swallowed up by large multi-nationals (including many agrichemical conglomerates) with profit in mind. At the same time, commercial seed packets have increased in price but the number of seeds inside has sometimes decreased.
“A sustainable gardener is someone who looks at a seed and sees a plant.”
2. Food Security Begins in your Backyard
Home gardeners need to have control over being able to grow food plants from seeds that are safe, viable and locally grown. Aim to grow food from seeds that:
- Have not been genetically modified or engineered.
- Can be saved and will grow true-to-type so you can save money.
- Maintain the genetic diversity that nature provides to protect against pest and disease.
- Are locally grown and well adapted for thriving in your own region’s climate.
- Have not been grown with chemicals (herbicides, pesticides and fungicides).
- Are not sterile or have ‘Terminator’ genes which prevent them from being able to reproduce.
- Preserve favourable characteristics including superb flavour, high yields and slow to bolt to seed.
So, it’s important to learn more about the source of the seeds you grow and how to save at least one variety.
“With the rising cost of fruit and vegetables, it will become even more essential to the average family’s budget to grow their own food from seed and learn how to seed save.”
3. Healthy, Pest and Disease-Resistant Plants
Understanding who is behind the commercial seed companies and their goals and intentions helps us make better decisions about seed selection. This knowledge also helps us to appreciate one of the reasons why pest and disease have become such a problem for gardeners worldwide.
More and more of our global food supply is becoming genetically engineered for the benefit of multi-national agrichemical corporations like Monsanto.
Today, the seed industry is controlled worldwide by just a handful of corporations. Sadly, many of our current open-pollinated varieties have only one commercial source. These multi-nationals buy up small seed companies, reduce the diversity of seeds available to the population and genetically manipulate them to become reliant on the chemicals they sell so they can profit.
Let’s look at an example of this. Some seeds are manipulated to resist a certain pest or disease, so on the surface with clever marketing this seems to ‘solve’ the problem. However, these corporations have sacrificed other important characteristics vital for healthy growth. So whilst these plants may resist a particular disease or pest, they are often much weaker and thus need constant propping up with chemical fertilisers (sold by the same corporations) in order to grow. So they are creating the problem in the first place so they can ‘solve’ it for profit. Makes sense and dollars.
“Consumers need to wise up to such tactics and grow healthy plants the old fashioned way – with healthy soil and heirloom seed varieties.”
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4. Preserve the Genetic Diversity of Heirloom Plant Varieties
This simply means we can all help retain a wider range of edible plants by preserving or saving at least one or two varieties at home.
Sadly, during the 1900s there was a staggering drop in the number of heirloom varieties (those handed down from generation to generation). Why? Simply because gardeners stopped saving and trading their own seeds. As I’ve mentioned, if we rely on commercial seed companies, this trend will continue to happen. Sustainability and biodiversity of our seed stock begin in our home gardens.
The commercial reality is ‘slow-selling seeds’ just stop being produced and quietly disappear. What this loss means for us is lower genetic variability in our food plants. This, in turn, means lower adaptability to stresses such as pest, disease and weather changes.
“Every time we lose a seed variety, we lose another opportunity to feed ourselves in a world of corporate control, changing climate and shrinking resources.”
“Seeds are a gift of nature, past generations, and diverse cultures. It is our inherent duty and responsibility to protect and to pass seeds on to future generations. Seeds are the first link in the food chain, the embodiment of biological and cultural diversity, and the repository of life’s future evolution.” – Manifesto On The Future of Seed, Vandana Shiva
5. Seed Saving is Rewarding and Easy
There’s no doubt about it, saving your own seeds is deeply satisfying.
Last night I made a curry and chopped up cucumber and coriander on top. Both of these were grown from my garden with seeds I planted this year from last year. They were healthy, full of flavour and didn’t suffer from any pest or disease attack. Best of all, they cost me NOTHING! Kilos of cucumbers from just a few seeds. You can do this too! I also save seeds from my herbs and vegetables to regrow as microgreens. These are nutritious baby leafy greens that provide living digestive enzymes and diversity of phytonutrients essential to a healthy immune system and gut.
When you observe your seeds grow and mature from flower to seed, this process connects you deeply with nature’s cycles and seasons. Not only that but learning how to process seeds that you will use to plant your garden every year, builds self-reliance and a great sense of empowerment.
Now you know more about the benefits of sowing safe seeds, consider learning the skill of seed saving and supporting seed companies that sell open-pollinated and heirloom varieties. Sustainability starts with simple steps. Food for thought!
- Saving and Sourcing Open-Pollinated Seeds
- Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Seeds
- How to Prevent and Fix Leggy Seedlings
- Can You Sow Out of Date Seeds?
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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – https://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.