Hot Off the Press: The Seed Garden

Edited by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Siegel; written by Miceala Colley and Jared Zystro

SeedGardenJKY.inddTo celebrate its 40th year of collecting, preserving and sharing seeds, Decorah, Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange partnered with the Organic Seed Alliance to publish this detailed and beautifully illustrated volume subtitled The Art and Practice of Seed Saving.

In a brief introduction, the authors make their case for heirloom plants and those who save and use their seeds, pointing out that open-pollinated varieties are valued as much for the sense of self-reliance they provide to gardeners as for the particular colors, flavors or sizes of the vegetables.

The first seven chapters of The Seed Garden cover the science of seeds and the mechanics of saving them. Although the authors insist, several times, that seed saving can be done by gardeners of any ability or experience level, the botanical explanations and complexity of the process might leave novice seed-savers feeling slightly intimidated.

The next section includes profiles of 75 species—each of which has a basic botanical summary (family, life cycle, pollination method, seed maturity, etc.) along with crop types; the plant’s history; how to harvest, clean and store the seeds. This section is illustrated with stunning color close-ups of relevant plant parts.

Included in the book’s information-packed back section are two pages that explain the legal restrictions, protections and issues germane to the personal and commercial seed world. For those who are serious about seed saving, this book offers all the information you will need in a beautiful package.

—Julie Jensen